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Prime Minister Solomon Bandaranaike Assassination Revisited After 50 years

Part 1: Politics

by Sachi Sri Kantha, September 26, 2009

Sanmugathasan posed, “What happens when a monk becomes a historian is that religion and history tend to get mixed up.” I re-worked this to ask, “What happens when a monk become an assassin?”, and the outcome is as follows. Not only “the sources of early history of Ceylon are poor” as Sanmugathasan noted, one will find that even the sources of recent history of Ceylon are poor too.

Prime Minister BandaranaikeAs far as political assassinations go, I consider that what happened 50 years ago in Colombo was unique for the 20th century. The victim was the prime minister of a nation. Prime Ministers or Presidents of other nations had been assassinated previously. But, the assassin in Colombo on September 25, 1959 was a Buddhist monk. The prime conspirator was also a Buddhist monk. Buddhist monks, Muslim mullahs, Christian clergy, Jewish rabbi and Hindu swamis might have been involved, albeit indirectly, in political assassinations for many centuries. But the direct involvement of a head of state (as the victim), and monks as an assassin and the prime conspirator to the crime, makes the murder of Solomon Bandaranaike somewhat unique.

Recently, I was re-reading the short tract ‘A Marxist looks at the History of Ceylon’ (1972) authored by N. Sanmugathasan, a Tamil Leftist politician and agitator during the husband and wife Bandaranaike periods (1950s to 1970s) after a span of three decades. I quote two paragraphs from the first chapter that are relevant today.

“Unfortunately, the sources of the early history of Ceylon are poor. For the most part, much of the early history of Ceylon is derived from the Mahawamsa and its later continuation, the Culawamsa. The Mahawamsa was put into writing only in the 6th century AD and was composed in Dhatsusena’s reign by a learned Buddhist priest, by the name of Mahanama, who was an uncle of the king. All his sources were records preserved by the Sangha (priests) of the Mahavira. The story was continued in the same style in the reign of Parakrama Bahu and carried down by later scholars from time to time to the end of the 18th century.

Although Ceylonese generally take pride in the possession of such an ancient historical record, and although it is undoubtedly valuable as a source of Ceylon history, its impartiality is open to doubt. It had the disadvantage of having been written by a member of the Sangha at a time when it had obtained a position of influence as advisers to the kings. The natural tendency was to praise those kings who supported the Sangha, and to speak disparagingly of those who did not.” (p. 5)

In the beginning of the following paragraph, Sanmugathasan posed, “What happens when a monk becomes a historian is that religion and history tend to get mixed up.” I re-worked this to ask, “What happens when a monk become an assassin?”, and the outcome is as follows. Not only “the sources of early history of Ceylon are poor” as Sanmugathasan noted, one will find that even the sources of recent history of Ceylon are poor too.

I present below (1) a scan of rather incomplete cumulation of some sources that had covered the Solomon Bandaranaike assassination (2) the political context in 1959, as reported in the Time and Newsweek magazines.

Historian Prof. K.M.de Silva’s version (1981)

“By the beginning of 1959, the [political] coalition was coming apart, although in parliament the SLFP was strong enough, thanks to the disarray in the ranks of the Opposition, to continue its dominance. The first phase of the political crisis ended with the resignation of the left-wing group in the Cabinet, but the prime minister was now left with a cabinet of mediocrities, and a party in which the more liberal and reformist groups were becoming less influential. This bitter struggle for power within the governing party culminated in Bandaranaike’s assassination on 26 September 1959 [sic; the assassination date was 25 September.] The instrument of his assassination was a bhikku, and the conspiracy was hatched by the most powerful political bhikku of the day, who had contributed greatly to Bandaranaike’s triumph in 1956 and who had engineered the elimination of the left-wing ministers from the Cabinet early in 1958. In this murder conspiracy, the most sordid commercial considerations were mixed with the zest for control over the government. At the time of his assassination Bandaranaike was no longer the masterful politician he had been in 1956-7, since when his hold on the electorate had weakened. But his murder dramatically changed the political situation.” (p. 524)

Note that in the above version, Prof. Kingsley de Silva had refrained from naming the assassin and the prime conspirator!

History Compilers Samarasinghe and Samarasinghe version (1998)

This is from the Historical Dictionary of Sri Lanka. The entry on S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike ends with the following sentence.

“However, his tenure as prime minister was brought to a tragic end by his assassination at the hands of a bhikku gunman.” (pp. 38-39)

Akin to Prof. Kingsley de Silva, the Samarasinghes also had refrained from naming the assassin and the prime conspirator!

Historian Sanmugathasan’s version (1972)

Sanmugathasan’s version was written while he was imprisoned in 1971 by the regime of Solomon Bandaranaike’s widow, Sirimavo Bandaranaike.

“The parting of ways with the radical elements of his Cabinet had left Bandaranaike a prisoner of the reactionary sections – some of whose representatives successfully plotted his assassination on the 25th of September 1959. As he bent low to pay his respects to a Buddhist monk, who was seated on his verandah, the monk whipped out a pistol from out of his robes, and emptied it into the frail figure of the prime minister. It was the eve of the day on which the prime minister was to have left for the UN. On the next day, the prime minister succumbed to his injuries.

The circumstances of his death, and the courage with which he met it, as well as the spirit of forgiveness, which he displayed to his assailant, have built a halo around his name. An attempt was even made to deify him. Under such circumstances, no sober appraisal of his place in Ceylon politics has been made. A legend has sprung up about the so-called Bandaranaike policies he is alleged to have followed. But if anyone is pinned down to explain what is meant by the Bandaranaike policies, no satisfactory answer is forthcoming. Perhaps the vagueness of the concept permits each one to interpret it in his own way and do as he likes all the while claiming to be a devout follower of the Bandaranaike policies – which is what is happening now.” (pp. 67-68)

Compared to Prof. Kingsley de Silva’s description and that offered by Samarasinghe and Samarasinghe, Sanmugathasan provides a little more description on the circumstances and the context under which Solomon Bandaranaike was assassinated. But, he also had refrained from naming the assassin and the prime conspirator.

Anthropologist Edmund Leach’s description (1973)

Among the few academic papers that I have read on the context of Solomon Bandaranaike’s assassination, I liked the unflattering portrayal presented by British anthropologist Edmund Leach. Here it is (the words in italics, are as in the original):

“The complexities of the underlying contradictions of cultural identity, part ‘traditional’, part ‘modern’, are well illustrated by the record of the martyred prime minister of Ceylon, S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike (born S.W.R. Dias). The particular relevance of this example is that it shows that, in the context of Ceylon, which was first colonized by Europeans in the sixteenth century, the polarization of traditional versus modern does not fit at all tidily with either of the alternative polarizations, old versus new, or Asian versus European.

Bandaranaike’s family had been Mudaliyars – native Government agents of the highest rank – from the earliest days of European colonization. Like the Vicar of Bray they had always loyally supported the paramount power – Portuguese, Dutch, or British. A portrait of Don Solomon Dias Bandaranaike, Gate Mudaliyar (great grandfather of S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike) who died in 1859, appears in J.E. Tennent where the reader’s attention is drawn to the ‘gold chains and medals by which his services have been recognized by the British Government’. S.W.R.D.’s father Sir Solomon Dias Bandaranike, Kt., C.M.G., Maha Mudaliyar, served as native A.D.C. to the Governor of Ceylon and extra A.D.C. to King George V. The whole family had been staunchly Christian for over a century. Around 1920 all of them seem to have been known by the simple surname Dias; in 1950 about half had reverted to a hyphenated Dias-Bandaranaike; only S.W.R.D. seems to have suppressed the Dias to an initial. S.W.R.D. himself only learned to speak Sinhalese after taking his degree at Oxford and qualifying as a barrister in London. And like other contemporaries he did this to further his political career. Yet despite his apparently anglophile Christian background, Bandaranike managed in the early 1950’s to present himself to the electorate as the devoutly chauvinistic leader of Sinhalese Buddhists under the slogan: ‘Sinhalese is the national language of Ceylon; Buddhism is our national religion.’

Bandaranaike’s success in the 1956 elections was, without any question, mainly due to the well organized and well-financed campaign of the Eksath Bhikku Peramuna (EBP), a specially recruited team of political monks which was active in every Sinhalese constituency throughout the country. The EBP was the brain child of the venerable Mapitigama Buddharakkhita, the presiding monk of the very wealthy Kelaniya temple. Various aspects of Buddharakkhita’s murky political background and financial dealings are given in considerable detail by Smith and Bechert. Here it will suffice that Buddharakkhita owed his position in the Kelaniya temple to close personal ties with a variety of wealthy politicians, some of whom were his relatives. The network of kinsfolk included Bandaranaike himself.

Once in power, Bandaranaike was greatly embarrassed by his personal debt to Buddharakkhita. Buddharakkhita’s mistress was made Minister of Health and Buddharakkhita himself was given an appointment under the ministry, but Bandaranaike was unable to fulfill his lavish pre-election promises to the Sangha as a whole. The Marxist MEP members of his coalition government refused to accept the communal, anti-Tamil implications of a flat declaration that Sinhalese was the national language and Buddhism the national religion. Bandaranaike was also unable to give Buddharakkhita and his relatives the financial prerequisites which they had apparently been led to expect.

As a consequence of this backstage quarrel, Bandaranaike found that the political support he had previously received from the Sangha was fading rapidly. However, the quarrel was not public. Although the relations between Buddharakkhita and the Minister of Health were a topic of gossip and scandal, the prime minister still treated Buddharakkhita with the greatest public deference. Under the circumstances, it seems altogether astonishing that in September 1959 Bandaranaike should have been assassinated by a relatively junior monk acting on the orders of Buddharakkhita and that the latter should subsequently have been condemned to death for complicity in murder. (The sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment.) Bandaranaike’s posthumous career has conformed to a well-established tradition concerning the sanctity of murdered religious leaders; he is now variously worshipped as a god (deviyo) and revered as a Bodhisattva (future Buddha).

What is astonishing is not that there should have been an assassination but that the shrewd Buddharakkhita should have so misjudged the consequences. Overnight, the unpopular prime minister became martyred hero. For the first time in living memory Buddhist monks were stoned in the street. The Sangha had lost every advantage it had gained in the past ten years. But, even in this crisis, public reaction took a predictable and traditional form. The newspaper editorials carried the banner, ‘Let us cleanse the Sangha!’ ” (pp. 44-46)

In the above description, Edmund Leach had identified the prime conspirator, Buddharakkhitha Thero, by name. But he had refrained from naming the monk assassin, Somarama Thero. I’d also note that Philip Gunawardena (1901-1972), the sacked Marxist MEP member from Solomon Bandaranaike’s Cabinet, turned into a rabid anti-Tamil racist in late 1950s.

The Political Context in 1959

I provide below six items that had appeared in the Time and Newsweek magazines, which provide the political context in 1959. In chronological order, these were:

The Muddler (Time, April 6, 1959)

Jealousy among the Marxists (Time, June 1, 1959)

The Two Gees (Newsweek, June 1, 1959)

The People’s Premier (Time, October 5, 1959)

Eruption in Ceylon (Newsweek, October 5, 1959)

Fearful Men (Newsweek, December 21, 1959)

The Muddler (Time, April 6, 1959)

In the eleven years since it won independence from Britain, Ceylon has had a cautious, conservative government and a wild-eyed socialist one.Last week, in the third year of the socialist administration of frail, fidgety premier Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike, 60, Ceylon sweltered in the pre-monsson heat. In the capital city of Colombo, the stores were packed with luxury goods, the streets jammed with cars, the sidewalks filled with smiling people and saffron-robed Buddhist monks under black umbrellas. In the lush countryside there were signs of the paralyzing drought that had lasted for months. But the island’s cash products – tea, rubber, coconuts, rice – still found a ready world market.

There seems to be no hint in Ceylon of last year’s bestial communal riots between Hindu Tamils and Buddhist Sinhalese, in which an estimated 1,000 died – some of them soaked with kerosene and burned alive (Time, June 16, 1958), premier Bandaranaike now refers to the riots, largely caused by his own ineptitude, as ‘one of those little outbreaks’. In addition to the riots, ‘Banda’ has buoyantly survived incessant strikes, a rising cost of living, unemployment, a flight of capital, floods, drought and hysterical politics. Having survived so much, Banda has a fair chance to last out his five year term of office, even though movie audiences hoot at his appearance in newsreels, and he has lost much of his 1956 electoral support.

Typical of Banda’s nimble maneuvering is his makeshift coalition Cabinet, where the political spectrum ranges from Communist-minded food minister Philip Gunawardena, 58, to an efficient combine of right-wing, pro-Western politicians. ‘The only cementing factor’, says Opposition leader Dr. N.M. Perera, a handsome, sleepy-eyed Trotskyite (The Trotskyite, or anti-Stalinist, Communists hold 14 seats in a 100-man House of Representatives. The only other place in the world where Trotskyites have any real influence is Bolivia.), is the mutual dread of an election’. By gently shifting his influence, Banda alternately encourages and hampers Gunawardena in his proposals for land reform and rural cooperatives; little has been done to fulfill election promises of nationalizing tea and rubber plantations, or of turning Ceylon into a model Socialist country.

Banda has even succeeded in pushing through his wrangling parliament a tough public security bill giving the government emergency powers against local disturbances and against strikes that it considers ‘politically motivated’. The debate on the bill got so heated that police had to storm parliament and carry out opposition leaders, including Dr. Perera, who kept right on orating as he was being borne horizontally from the hall.

Banda’s guile is equally evident in his dealings with East and West. After a flurry of deals last year with the Soviet-block nations he is now slipping from their deadly embrace. A Red Chinese delegation has cooled its heels for a month in Colombo trying to arrange a new rice-for-rubber barter, after the other one worked out badly. Of 16 ambitious projects to be set up with Soviet Russian aid, only one – a sugar factory – is beyond the planning stage. Banda’s smiles are currently lavished on the US aid missions, which since 1956 have spent $36 million on a variety of Ceylon’s problems, from malaria control to extending the runways at Colombo airport. More than 1,600,000 schoolchildren get a daily glass of milk and a bun from US surplus foods. Even glowering anti-American food minister Gunawardena works closely with US people on agricultural and irrigation projects.

Economically better off than India, politically no more unstable than Indonesia, Ceylon moves imperfectly forward – but it does move. Said a Western observer to a Time correspondent in Colombo last week: ‘It’s utterly chaotic, and yet, I’m less worried about Ceylon today than I was a year ago. If the Ceylonese have learned anything from the British, I guess it is the art of muddling through.’

*****

Jealousy among the Marxists (Time, June 1, 1959)

For three years, Ceylon’s frail-looking preimier Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike has needed all his considerable skill at compromise to hold together his United Front coalition. Chief threat: the unsettling presence in his Cabinet of pro-Communist food and agriculture minister Philip Gunawardena.

A University of Wisconsin-trained Soviet apologist, Gunawardena used his powerful position to force nationalization of Colombo’s port and bus systems and collectivization of many of the island’s fertile paddy fields. Now he was setting up an island-wide system of cooperatives frankly dedicated to his declared objective: ‘All private enterprise must totally disappear.’

Having had their fill of Philip, right-wing ministers resolved to boycott Cabinet meetings until he was sacked. Bandaranaike agreed to clip Gunawardena’s wings by taking from him three of his ministry’s four departments, Gunawardena resigned, taking with him into opposition three other ministers. Bandaranaike was left with a parliamentary minority of 47 out of 99 seats, and should have tumbled from office.

But things do not happen that way in Ceylon. Constitutionally, the government need not resign unless it loses a vote on the budget – which does not come up until August. Besides, Bandaranaike quickly patched up a new alliance with parliament’s three Communists and 14 Trotskyites, who resent Gunawardena’s energetic bid for personal publicity and power. Trading on the jealousies that divide Ceylon’s varied Marxists, Bandaranaike hopes to serve out his term till 1961, and seems secure for perhaps six months.

*****

The Two Gees ( Newsweek, June 1, 1959)

If former US Ambassador to Ceylon Maxwell H. Gluck found it hard to recall the name of the island’s studious prime minister, Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike (Newsweek, August 12, 1957), he would have been even harder pressed last week by the names of two possible contenders for Bandaranaike’s power. On the left was Philip Gunawardena, the Trotskyite Minister of agriculture and food; to the right was the Governor-General, Sir Oliver Goonetilleke.

Gunawardena has long sought to socialize Ceylon by pushing through paddy-field legislation that would, in effect, open the way for the communalization of small holdings throughout the island. Supporting him are Marxists, Trotskyites, Communists, and neutralists, all of whom are fighting among themselves.

Last week, after the prime minister had moved to curb the ambitious Gunawardena by stripping off most of his powers in the Ceylon Cabinet, the left-winger resigned, taking with him enough members of Bandaranaike’s government to threaten a ‘no confidence’ vote, and perhaps a general strike.

If Gunawardena makes trouble, moderates may look to Governor-General Goonetilleke, who is Commander in Chief of the army. Struck by the example of Gen. Ne Win in Burma, he is reportedly considering establishing one-man military rule. But Goonetilleke, who enjoys great public prestige, is an ardent supporter of parliamentary government. So far, he has made no move.

As of now, observers believe that prime minister Bandaranaike and his minority government will manage to muddle through until late summer. But with a downward-sliding economy, a change cannot be long delayed.

*****

The People’s Premier (Time, October 5, 1959, p. 32)

Whenever one of his subordinates suggested that an extra bodyguard might be a good thing to have around, wiry, fragile-looking Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike, 60, would only laugh. Proud of being known as ‘the people’s premier’ of Ceylon, ‘Banda’ refused to worry about personal safety, almost every morning would throw open his rambling bungalow on Colombo’s shady Rosemead Place to all who wanted to see him.

One morning last week, soon after new US Ambassador Bernard Gufler (a successor to the hapless Maxwell H. Gluck of Manhattan, who, shortly before his departure for Ceylon, won nationwide jeers – and new US fame for Bandaranaike – by admitting to the Senate that he could not ‘call off’ the Ceylonese prime minister’s name.) had left the bungalow, a monk in saffron robes approached the prime minister on the veranda. While Banda bowed low in the Buddhist greeting, another man in monk’s robes drew near and whipped out a .45 pistol. As the prime minister cried out his wife’s name, ‘Sirima! Sirima!’ his assailant fired again and again. By the time a sentry brought the assassin down with a wound in the thigh, four bullets had pierced Banda’s liver, spleen and large intestine. Next morning, after a five-hour operation, Solomon Bandaranaike died.

The son of a rich Ceylonese public servant whose devotion to the British Crown won him a knighthood in 1907, Banda had long steered a perilous course through the tricky tides of Asian politics. He was raised a Christian and educated at Oxford where his debating skill earned him the admiration of his English classmate, Anthony Eden. But once back home, Banda renounced Christianity in favor of Buddhism, threw off Western dress in favor of long white sarongs, and plunged into the movement that was to bring Ceylon independence within the Commonwealth in 1948. In 1951 he set up his own Marxist Ceylon Freedom Party. Five years later he was, as Eden had predicted, his country’s prime minister.

‘I do not love you, Banda, dear,’ his critics hooted, ‘because you change from year to year.’ Yet Banda’s talent for political survival was so astonishing that a cartoonist once pictured him as a grinning cat, leaning on his own sixth gravestone and saying, ‘Well, six down, three to go.’ Though he once actually fell short of a parliamentary majority, he managed to hold on to power by a judicious distribution of parliamentary secretaryships and minor portfolios. He survived brawls and Cabinet mutinies, ruled, until his death, with a shaky majority of one.

Last year Banda’s country was torn by bloody riots between Hindu Tamils and Buddhist Sinhalese, in which men were burned alive. Though his own vacillations and tendency to flirt with political and religious extremists were largely responsible for the riots, Banda airily dismissed them as ‘one of those little outbreaks’. It was a far less serious little outbreak that finally brought him down. His assassin turned out to be a 43- year-old monk who practices the traditional Ayurvedic (native) medicine – asecret method of treatment with herbs and massage. According to Colombo police, the monk bore a personal grudge against Banda, presumably because of his refusal to rid Ceylon of its modern doctors.

Within an hour after the monk’s bullets found their mark, Ceylon’s tough, puckish Governor General Sir Oliver Goonetilleke proclaimed what amounted to a state of emergency over Ceylon – a volatile land that boasts the highest homicide rate in Asia. But next day, as Banda’s like-minded colleague, Education minister Wijayananda Dahanayake, took over the premiership, a strange quiet settled over the country. Taxis, buses and cars flew mourning flags of white; the only hint of violence lay in a rising wave of public feeling against the Buddhist clergy. In Colombo a two mile-long queue waited five hours in the scorching sun to pass by Banda’s coffin in the Rosemead Place bungalow. At first the police refused to admit them, but at last Sir Oliver intervened. ‘The gates of the prime minister’s home,’ he said, ‘were always open to the people. They must be open now.’

*****

Eruption in Ceylon (Newsweek, October 5, 1959, pp. 39-40)

A frail little man in wrap-around skirt and a thin scarf stood calmly smoking his pipe on the veranda of his bungalow in Colombo’s most luxurious residential district. Preparing to visit Washington to discuss Ceylon’s problems with President Eisenhower, he chatted with visitors seeking advice or favors. When two saffron-robed Buddhist monks appeared, he bowed low before them, then raised his eyes – and looked into the barrel of a .45 automatic. One of the monks had flipped it out of his robes, and now fired point-blank. The 60 year-old prime minister of Ceylon, Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike, staggered from the veranda, a bullet lodged in his liver. The automatic slammed two more times; two more bullets plowed into his body.

Bandaranaike’s murder last week, like most of the violence, intrigue, and trouble that have plagued Ceylon since he became prime minister in 1956, seemed both pointless and avoidable. But like most of Ceylon’s other troubles, it could be traced to a clash between the deeply rooted superstitions of the East and Western concepts of government, economics and science.

On the very evening of the day he was shot, Bandaranaike was scheduled to review the recommendations of a Colombo Plan expert on Ceylon’s rival East-West medical practices. Many were fearful that the Western-educated prime minister would support Western methods against the ancient form of medicine called Ayurveda (which features herbs, hotcompresses and body massage).

Rushed to a Western-style hospital, Bandaranaike asked his people to forgive ‘this foolish man’ who had shot him. Then he underwent corrective surgery – and died 22 hours later. The assassin and his companion – both Aurveda practitioners – were jailed. Outside the hospital, a thousand women wailed.

The death of Bandaranaike precipitated the island into yet another political crisis. Gov. Gen. Sir Oliver Goonetilleke, whose office is one of Ceylon’s few remaining links to the British Commonwealth, ordered the armed forces to patrol the streets. He also asked Bandaranaike’s chosen successor, Education Minister Wijayananda Dahanayake to take over the government. The problem: the ruling Freedom Party holds only a one vote majority in parliament.

Unlike Bandaranaike, a gentle-mannered and cultured man who graduated from Christ Church, Oxford, Dahanayake is a more flamboyant, grass-roots type of politician with a flair for the unpredictable. Like his predecessor, however, he is a fervent nationalist and neutralist.

What changes Dahanayake might make are as unpredictable as he is. But with Bandaranaike gone and 9 million island people deeply divided linguistically (between Singhalese and Tamil), religiously (between Buddhist, Hindu, Christian and Moslem), socially (between East and West), and politically (between Tortskyits, Socialists, and conservatives), the future looked dark indeed for stable democratic rule.”

*****

Fearful Men (Newsweek, December 21, 1959)

‘I am resigning because I do not want my throat cut in broad daylight.’ When prime minister Wijayananda Dahanayake of Ceylon used those melodramatic words to explain his withdrawl last week from his own ruling Sri Lanka Freedom Party, he was speaking figuratively – or was he?

The question arises because Ceylon is face to face with political and economic chaos. Cabinet ministers have taken to carrying revolvers, other leading citizens are hiring bodyguards. The banks are closed, trade is suffocating, Marxist unions control the docks. Meanwhile, the motive for the recent assassination of prime minister Bandaranaike, Dahanayake’s predecessor, has remained shrouded in mystery, despite the efforts of 125 investigators and two detectives from Scotland Yard. No trials have yet been held, but there are suspects and one of the most prominent among them is a leader of Dahanayake’s own Freedom Party.

Faced with internal party dissensions as well as loud opposition demands that his government resign, Dahanayake tried instead to get out from under and save himself. Last week, in quick succession he dissolved parliament, fired five Cabinet ministers, quite the Freedom Party, and announced that he will form a new political party of his own.

As caretaker prime minister, however, Dahanayake will continue to rule only until March 19, the date set for new elections by Governor-General Sir Oliver Goonetilleke. And in the turbulent three months that must pass before that date, it may not be only the prime minister of Ceylon who will worry about getting his throat cut – whether figuratively or otherwise.

*****

One may note that fifty years ago, reporter bylines were absent even in the Time and Newsweek magazines. The October 5th issues of both Time and Newsweek that reported the assassination of Solomon Bandaranaike failed to provide details (name and age) of his monk assassin. Briefest information on body wounds was recorded. The prime minister was wounded in thigh, liver, spleen and large intestine and as a consequence suffered massive internal bleeding. The monk assassin was also shot soon afterwards by a police sentry. (To be continued)

Cited Sources

de Silva, K.M.: A History of Sri Lanka, C.Hurst & Co., London, 1981.

Leach, E: Buddhism in the post-colonial political order in Burma and Ceylon. Daedalus, winter 1973; 102(1): 29-54.

Samarasinghe, S.W.R.de A. and Samarasinghe, Vidyamali: Historical Dictionary of Sri Lanka, Scarecrow Press, Lanham, Maryland, 1998.

Sanmugathasan, N: A Marxist looks at the History of Ceylon, Colombo, 1974, 2nd ed.

Part 2

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