Assassination of Bandaranaike
by K T Rajasingham, ‘Asian Times,’ Singapore
Bandaranaike, Solomon West Ridgeway Dias (1899-1959), the prime minister of Ceylon (1956-59), whose election marked a significant change socially and ethnically in the political history of modern Ceylon, was born on January 8. His father was the only son of Gate Mudliyar, Sir Don Solomon Dias Bandaranaike, and his mother was Lady Eslin Daisy Obeysekera, and they hailed from Horagolla, in Attanagalle.
He was educated at Thurstan College, Colombo, where he passed his senior Cambridge examination with distinction, gaining third place in the British Empire. In 1919, he left for higher education to England, at Oxford University. In 1921, he held the prestigious position of Secretary of the Oxford Union. Bandaranaike was called to the Bar in 1925. After returning to Ceylon, he entered politics, as an advocate of a federal political structure for Ceylon. He had led the Progressive National Party in the mid-1920s. In 1927, he was elected as a member of the Colombo Municipal Council. In 1931, he was elected to the State Council. After the 1936 elections to the State Council, he became the Minister of Local Government (1936-47) and began to advocate the system of the Provincial Council, as an apex of Ceylon’s local government system. In 1937, he formed the Sinhala Maha Sabah – the Grand Sinhala Council, for the promotion of the Sinhalese interest in the country.
In 1940, he married Srimavo Ratwatte, a daughter of a landed proprietor and a descendant of one of the Andean chieftains. The couple had Sunethra, who later worked as private secretary to her mother when she was premier 1970-77, and Chandrika, presently widowed, and president of the country since 1996. Their one son Anura, a gay bachelor and a maverick politician, kept on changing political parties. From SLFP he joined the UNP and was a leading member of the UNP and the Speaker of the last National State Assembly (Parliament), but in October 2001 he somersaulted to re-enter the SLFP fold.
Bandaranaike joined the United National Party (UNP), when it was formed, but continued to lead the Sinhala Maha Sabah without disbanding it. In 1947, as a prominent member of the governing UNP, he was elected to the House of Representatives and appointed as the Minister of Health and Local Government. He resigned from the Government and the Western-oriented UNP in 1951, and organized his own political party – Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP). He was re-elected in 1952 on the SLFP ticket, and became the Leader of the Opposition.
Four years later, he formed the Mahajana Exalt Peramuna (MEP, People’s United Front), a political alliance of four socialist parties, which swept the elections and he became Prime Minister, on April 12, 1956.
When S W R D Bandaranaike, the leader of SLFP, a Catholic, tried to outsmart his political opponents by pampering the egos of the Buddhist bikkhus in his quest for power and position, gave birth to a social change among the Sinhalese masses.
He devised a political strategy capable of inspiring farmers and workers. He brought about political awareness by which the rural population, working class, school teachers and the Ayurvedic practitioners came to the forefront and played a leading role in the election campaign. He made sure that the socially-deprived masses played a leading role in the political life of the country. Bandaranaike wanted to give the common man what he wanted and showed interest in improving social and economic changes among the masses. The impact of these changes had an effect on the subsequent process of political and social scenarios that unfolded after the 1956 parliamentary general elections. He was credited with having ushered in Appe Anduwa – People’s Government – in reality, the beginning of the era of the Sinhalese domination over the linguistic and religious minorities in the country.
Bandaranaike was supported by the Buddhist clergies in the election campaign, who raised the slogan of discrimination against the Sinhalese through 400 years of Christian rule and eight years of pro-Western UNP rule. The Buddhist clergies presented a 10-point program to S W R D Bandaranaike at an election rally in Colombo. It called for the implementation of the Buddhist Commission Report to make Sinhala the only official language, to give Buddhism its rightful place in the country, and to promote Ayurvedic (indigenous) medicine, as a few of their demands.
The Buddhist Front grew to be a militant organization and it began to make its presence felt in all Sinhala-Tamil issues. The Buddhist priesthood continued to keep a vigil on the activities of the prime minister and the government.
Regarding Bandaranaike’s cabinet, A Amirthalingham, the MP for Vaddukoddai, said, “For the first time after independence, a Government has come to power with 100 percent Sinhalese Ministers. The presence of A C S Marikar the MP for Kadugannawa, who is more Sinhalese than the Sinhalese themselves, is not going to alter the Pan-Sinhala character of the present government.”
After the election victory of the MEP, a group of leading Tamils and Muslims met Bandaranaike at his residence in Colombo to congratulate him. The delegation included Sir Arunachalam Mahadeva, Sir Kanthia Vaithiananathan, Senator S Nadesan, Dr M C M Kaleel, Senator A M A Gazes, S Thondaman and others.
Present also was Buddhrakitha Thero, the secretary of the Buddhist Front, and L H Methananda, a retired schoolteacher, who was the head of the two leading Buddhist secondary schools and a prominent advocate of the hard-line language policy. “The delegation congratulated Bandaranaike on his victory and went straight to the point of their visit. Nadesan, their spokesman, told the prime minister there should be an immediate settlement of the language problem. The minorities were ready to help, not obstruct him in his declared policy of making Sinhala the official language.
“Methananda cut in, saying the general election was fought on the language issue and there was no point in raising the question again. He added. “Sinhala has to be the language of the country.”
“Buddharakkitha Thero said the same thing: ‘Sinhala will be the official language.'” Dr Kaleel intervened. “We came here to speak to the Prime Minister, not to you. Allow the Prime Minister to reply.
“Bandaranaike, ‘They both belong to my party and have a right to speak.’ Ven. Buddharakkitha, ‘Are you trying to tell us what we should do? We have got a mandate from the people and it will not be altered.’ The delegation felt that it would serve no purpose to continue the talk and decided to leave. Bandaranaike accompanied them to the garden, and saw them off.” Out of Bondage: The Thondaman Story by T Sabaratnam, page 62. This episode clearly illustrates the hold the Buddhist clergies had on Bandaranaike.
A word about Buddharakkitha Thero, one of the founding members of the SLFP, who in the 1952 elections had spent tens of thousands of rupees supporting Vimala Wijewardene, the SLFP candidate against the formidable UNP stalwart J R Jayewardene for the Kelaniya constituency. Vimala lost that election. In the 1956 Parliamentary elections, he spent well over 100,000 rupees on the SLFP election campaign.
Bandaranaike earlier had a meeting with the Attorney-General and the Legal Draftsman to discuss matters connected with the Official Language Bill. He told them that according the mandate he received, Sinhala language should be the only official language and provision should be made for the reasonable use of Tamil and also discussed other provisions connected with bill.
Accordingly, the draft was prepared and on May 3, 1956, and when the Government Parliamentary Group met Bandaranaike, it was ready for distribution to members of the group. However, the Prime Minister withheld the draft bill, instead appointing a sub-committee of the Government Parliamentary Group to draft a fresh bill. The members were: The Premier as Chairman, M W H De Silva – Minister of Justice, Philip Gunawardene – Minister of Agriculture and Foods, W Dahanayake – Minister of Education, I M R A Iriyagolle – Parliamentary Secretary, K M P Rajaratne – Parliamentary Secretary, Sagara Palansooriya – MP, M B W Mediwake – MP, Nimal Karunatilleke – MP, and R S V Poulier – appointed MP. The sub-committee was empowered to co-opt others, if necessary.
It was called the “Sinhala Only Committee” and it had one representative of the minorities – R S V Poulier, a Burgher, and according to Bandaranaike, the Tamils were precluded from being on the Committee as they were against the Sinhala Only policy of the Government.
The Committee submitted its draft to the government parliamentary group on May 23. It contained six articles. The first one set out that Sinhala would be the sole official language. There were a few articles that dealt with the use of Tamil and English. K M P Rajaratne, the Parliamentary Secretary opposed the draft. Then on May 24, Professor F R Jayasuriya, a lecturer in economics at the University of Ceylon, commenced a fast-to-death in the Parliament premises, demanding that Sinhala should be the only official language and no concession should be given to any other languages. This attracted many communal-minded Sinhalese, such as L H Methanananda, K M P Rajaratne, the MP for Welimada and others with similar yearnings.
Much pressure was brought to bear on Bandaranaike, and finally he fell in line with the “Sinhala Only” camp. He introduced the bill in the House of Representatives on June 4 and debate went on until June 15, 1956. During voting, the UNP voted with the Government and the voting was 66-29.
“The decision to make Sinhalese as the sole official language of the Government was not practical. It could not be the sole language of government, in any case, in the Northern and Eastern provinces or any other area where it was not understood,” categorically described G C Mendis, during his presidential address of the Ceylon branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 10 years after the adoption, on December 10, 1966. In his address, he said:
“The decision was also unwise. If the decision of 1944 had been allowed to continue most of the 69 percent Sinhalese would not have considered it necessary to learn Tamil as they had few opportunities for employment in the Northern and Eastern provinces. On the other hand, many Tamils living in the Dry Zone in order to find employment in the Sinhalese Wet Zone would have considered necessary also to learn Sinhalese. The Indian Tamils living in the Central parts would have found it necessary even more. And gradually Sinhalese automatically would have become the main language of the country and of the government whatever was the situation culturally. Thus the language problem in Ceylon would have been automatically solved though gradually.” – Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, new series Volume XI – pages 20-21.
The passage of the Sinhala only law was a great blow to the Tamils. The Tamil leaders feared that the law might pose a threat of Tamils being assimilated into the Sinhalese mainstream. The threat was considered a serious issue as the cabinet had people like C P De Silva, a great believer in racial assimilation. According to V Navaratnam, “He – C P De Silva – once told some of us – the Tamil MPs, ‘Look at me. Four-hundred years ago my forefathers were Tamils who came from India. I am now Singhalese. What is wrong with me?'” The Fall and Rise of Tamil Nation page 130.
Furthermore, this fear was already confirmed by G C Mendis, a respected historian, who wrote in his, The Early History of Ceylon, “There is sufficient evidence to prove in the early centuries of the Christian era, the Dravidians helped to form the Sinhalese race … It is difficult to gauge the extent of Tamil blood among the Sinhalese, but there is no doubt, it is considerable.” – page 9.
It was feared that the Sinhalese leaders as well as the Buddhist clergies were working on a grand design to subdue the Tamils’ identity and gradually assimilate them into the Sinhalese ethnicity. This fear made the Tamil leaders oppose the imposition of the Sinhala only official language law which aimed to thrust the language into the throats of the Tamils.
The thinking of the leaders of the Ilankai Tamil Arasu Kadchi was clearly described by A Jeyaratnam Wilson, “FP leaders dwelt constantly on the theme that the Tamils constituted a nation and wished to remain one. They should protect their identity and not allow them to be assimilated, which they alleged was the sinister design of Sinhala political leaders. Assimilation would, in any case, place the Tamils at the bottom of the Sinhalese caste ladder, so there was no reason to become part of it.” S J V Chelvanayakam and theCrisis of Sri Lankan Tamil Nationalism, 1947-1977. page 68.
Once the Sinhala Only language Bill was passed, Ilankai Tamil Arasu Kadchi began to adopt a policy of “not to endure but to prevail”. The party, which had already rejected the national flag on the grounds that it gave undue prominence to the Sinhala lion, which “correctly symbolizes the present humiliating status of the Tamil-speaking people in Ceylon”. The party earlier declared that the flag should “be framed on non-communal principles and designed on the highest ideals of the present age”.
According to its declared policy, the ITAK announced that February 4, 1957, Independence Day, should be observed as a day of mourning. On this day all the towns and villages in the North and Eastern provinces, shops and offices were closed and black flags fluttered on private buildings. The hartal demonstrated the depth of hatred the Tamils had against the government’s imposition of the Sinhala only law.
The Language Act provided an opportunity for Tamils to permanently reject the national flag and also bring about the permanent cleavage in the ethnic relationships.
In the meantime, the Government Ministers who visited Tamil areas in the East, such as Dahanayake, Marikar and Stanley Zoysa and M P De Zoysa, the Parliamentary Secretary, who visited Jaffna, faced angry receptions and were greeted by a group black flag-waving hostile ITAK volunteers.
Meanwhile, C Suntheralingham brought up the matter of Sinhala people being colonized in the Padavilkulam, a hereditary Tamil region, by the Government. He wrote to C P De Silva, the minister in charge of the subject, on June 22, 1957, as follows, “I have to mention that the above 1,134 colonists and their families are Sinhalese and members of the Volunteer Force working under Mr S D Bandaranayaka and Philip [Gunawardene]. Not a single Tamil is among those who are selected as were sent to only schemes where Sinhalese are in plenty. Many schemes where Tamils are in plenty are not sent forms, thereby Tamil laborers could not apply, eg, The Kilinochchi Scheme was not sent any forms but they say forms have been sent. IE [Irrigation Engineer] Kilinochchi has wired for forms.
“I have already, in the course of my interview with you at the Ministry, in the presence of your Permanent Secretary, brought to your notice that, in my humble view, your ministry is guilty of flagrant violation of the laws of the land, as they stand in the statue book, and that, by administrative action you are seeking to squeeze out the Tamils.
“To my mind, the land question in relation to colonization schemes, being one of the four fundamental demands of the Federal Party [ITAK)]is of greater import to the Tamils, than even the Language Question.
“I charge you – you deliberately and maliciously violated the express provision of the law. By defying the procedure set out by the Land Development Ordinance, you have prevented the government agent, Trincomalee, from proceeding under the law. You have made a valuable part of the Trincomalee district a part of the NCP [North Central Province]. You have asked the permanent secretary, your director of irrigation, heads of your lands and land development departments and government agents, other than the government agent concerned who is vested with the necessary power under law, to dispose of the land in a sly, sneaky and slimy manner.
“Make no mistake, the land question is more diabolic than the language question, and unless you quieten the devil whom you are raising, against the express law of the land, in Pathaviya, you will be compelling us to deal with the devil ourselves.”
In the meantime, while the mood in the country was of a defensive nature, the consequence to a private member motion brought in parliament by Rajavarothayam, the ITAK MP for Trincomalee and seconded by C Vanniasingham of the same party, S W R D Bandaranaike enacted the Prevention of Social Disabilities Act of 1957, with the view to doing away with the scourge of the caste system that was still widely prevalent among Tamils and Sinhalese.
The act was approved on April 13, 1957, and enacted to prevent the imposition of social disabilities on any person by reason of their caste. According to the act, clause (2), “any person who imposes any social disability on any other person by reason of such other persons caste, shall be guilty of an offence and shall, on conviction after summary trial before a magistrate, be liable to imprisonment of either description for a term not exceeding six months or to a fine not exceeding one hundred rupees. This law enabled the temple entry of the members of the so called depressed caste Tamils especially in the Jaffna district”.
Eight years earlier, the Tamil MPs met then prime minister D S Senanayake and appealed to him to introduce legislation to prevent animal sacrifices in Hindu temples and also to compel the temple management to allow the so called members of the depressed caste to enter the temples for the purpose of worship.
D S Senanayake appointed a commission under the Chairmanship of K Kanakaratnam, the Tamil Congress MP for Vaddukoddai. It held several sittings and subsequently submitted its report. Based on this, a bill was drafted to give effect to the recommendations. Temple entry, which was proposed in the draft legislation, was opposed by conservative Hindus on flimsy religious grounds. As there was opposition to the bill, it did not find a place on the statute book.
Bandaranaike announced on October 15, 1957, that the major naval and air force base in Trincomalee, which had been under British control for the past 150 years, had now passed back completely into Ceylon’s possession. Also, on November 1, 1957, the big air force base in Katunayake also passed into Ceylonese hands. Several thousands of Tamil people who worked in the British naval base at Trincomalee lost their employment. Bandaranaike failed to provide either alternative employment or compensation for the thousands of Tamils who lost their jobs.
Bandaranaike advocated a neutralist foreign policy and he established diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union and China. He always emphasized that his neutralism should not be construed as being directed against the West.
With world leaders such as his friend Jawaharlal Nehru, Marshall Tito, Sukarno and Gamal Abdul Nasser, he pioneered that great neutralist movement which, under its more fashionable name – the Non-Aligned Movement, today counts in its growing ranks no less than 110 independent nations successfully following a policy of neutrality or non-alignment in the absence of any superpower blocks. The basic philosophy underlying all his actions, both public and private, policies, attitudes and thought was in short, what he cherished most: His great and never failing compassion towards his fellow beings, his charity towards them all and above all absence of any kind of malice towards one and all-man or nation. This was what political pundits declared of him and his foreign policies.
When in December 1958, while revolt was simmering in Tibet and the Chinese military command was threatening to bomb Lhasa and the Dalai Lama’s palace, if the unrest was not contained to Lhasa’s south and northeast, so nearly 20,000 guerrillas and several thousand civilians were engaging with Chinese troops. The conflict that ensued received international concern and condemnation by the entire Buddhist world.
Unfortunately, Bandaranaike viewed the issue purely as an internal matter for China to settle. The communist Chinese interference in Tibetan affairs and the subsequent fleeing of the Dalai Lama in 1951, aroused the sensibilities of a large section of the Buddhists in Ceylon.
From December 22, 1957, the country experienced the most severe floods in living memory, sweeping the north-central and eastern provinces, causing rivers to overflow. Bandaranaike visited the flood-affected regions to assess the damages and to provide relief. When he visited Batticaloa, C Rajadurai, a young and energetic, but first-time MP, went along with the Premier and his entourage to inspect the flooded affected areas.
Rajadurai was one of the best Tamil orators, and could keep his audience spellbound with his rhyming words and eloquent delivery. The first-time MP took Bandaranaike to the worst-affected areas and explained the extent of the damage.
It is still vivid in this writer’s memory, who, was in the entourage, the enthusiasm Rajadurai showed in the way he explained to the Prime Minister in his faltering English, “Sir, the water was standing here sir. The water was standing there sir and the water was standing everywhere sir.” Bandaranaike seems to have appreciated the enthusiasm and the lively interest Rajadurai showed in alleviating the sufferings of those flood victims and listened to him patiently and assured that the government would provide speedy relief.
Areas in the Mannar district were also inundated and thousands were rendered homeless. A few hundred died due to floods and there was no official estimate available for an accurate official figure of causalities for the 1957 flood.
Bandaranaike, in his urge to bring about a social changes during his tenure as Prime Minister, introduced socialist measures and nationalized private bus companies on January 1, 1958. He also nationalized life insurance companies in 1958 and the port of Colombo in 1959.
Bandaranaike became aware of the principles of a planned economy and a national commission was set up soon after he assumed office. By 1958, a 10-year plan for economic development was formulated and published, in which industrial development was given the topmost priority.
In the latter part of 1958, Philip Gunawardene, the Minister of Food and Agriculture, successfully enacted the Paddy Lands Act, which offered tenant cultivators greater security of tenure. This safeguarded the interests of tenant farmers from the clutches of the rapacious landowners.
In 1957, Bandaranaike had appointed a Buddha Sasana (Sasana – the dispensation of the Lord Buddha, the Buddhist religion; teaching, doctrine) commission to make recommendations on how to accord “Buddhism its rightful place in the country”.
However, little came of it due to controversy over its recommendations. Two Buddhists centers of learning, the Vidyodaya and the Vidyalankara Privenas, were granted university status on January 1, 1959.
The Government was bent on the reform of the constitution and also was interested in bringing about a series of changes in the election law. Bandaranaike set up, on November 2, 1957, a Joint Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Reform to prepare the framework of a new constitutional basic format. Due to the continued instability, Bandaranaike was unable to introduce any amendments to the Constitution as recommended by the Committee.
But the government was successful in introducing changes in the election law in 1959. The most striking change was the reduction of the voting age from 21 years to 18 years of age. The second Delimitation Commission with Walter Thalagodapitya as the chairman recommended the creation of 145 parliamentary electorates returning 151 members plus six nominated members totaling 157 for the forthcoming parliamentary general election.
As stated in the previous chapter, Bandaranaike reneged the Banda-Chelva Pact on April 9, 1958. On May 25, 1958 when the Batticaloa train was derailed at Polonnaruwa and Tamil passengers were attacked, it was a clear signal for the start of the anti-Tamil program, which resulted in riots against Tamils.
Anti-Tamil riots spread fast in the southern parts of the country and became uncontrollable. On May 27, a deputation led by R E Jayatilleke, a reputed Sinhalese personality, which included Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim communities, met Bandaranaike at his Rosemead Place residence and urged him to declare a state of emergency. The delegation gave an account of the riots and said that the country as a whole face a very severe crisis. Bandaranaike could not accept this and exploded, “you are exaggerating. The situation is not that bad.”
The leaders of all three communities who met him found that Bandaranaike was not awake to the deteriorating situation in the country. Therefore, they began to contact Sir Oliver Goonetilake, the Governor-General. Bandaranaike continued to vacillate despite the fact that the situation was deteriorating. Some of the most ferocious and violent clashes occurred in Colombo and its suburbs, in the Eastern province in the south of the province, where there was a mixed population due to the colonization of the Sinhalese in the Amparai region and in the North Central province where the Sinhalese hoodlums chased nearly 5,000 Tamil farming families who had lived there for several generations.
Finally, by the time the Government declared the state of emergency, more than 1,000 Tamils had been killed and several thousands displaced. The memories of the riots still haunt the country. This was a calculated attempt by the Government to subdue the Tamils. The most unfortunate thing was that the government never even considered to compensate the victims of the terror.
When the state of emergency was declared the armed forces were called out to assist the Police Force to restore law and order. Sir Oliver Goonetilake directed the restoration of the law and order, which amounted to the complete abdication of the Prime Minister’s authority of governing the country. On May 30, Sir Oliver Goonetilake announced at the press conference, “There is a mastermind behind the agitation that led to the violence.” His reference clearly pointed to J R Jayewardene.
In the meantime, S W R D Bandaranaike, after the declaration of the state of emergency, said while addressing a Government Parliamentary Group on June 3, 1958, “Gentlemen, I have since then got complete control of the situation. All the forces which were against law and order, under the misguided conception that they could overthrow this government, combined in the events during the last two weeks. The government did not hesitate to act. We have succeeded in checking the law-breakers.” His announcement was greeted with thunderous applause by the parliamentarians belonging to the government. They demanded the arrest of the Federal Party (Ilankai Tamil Arasu Kadchi) leaders.
The Prime Minister said, “Certainly, Federalists [ITAK] and other forces have planned to overthrow the Central Government to set up a separate administration in the North and East. But I have thwarted that. Their attempts have been quelled. My military forces are now in the north and in the east. There is military rule in these two provinces, each with a military governor. Yes, I say they are military governors. With my army, I will see that there is no repeated attempt to set up a different administration in those provinces.”
On June 4, Chelvanayakam narrated the harrowing story of the riots in Parliament and made an impassioned plea to arrest the persons behind the acts. Parliament adjourned its sitting for the day at 10 pm in the evening. When the ITAK MPs were on their way home they were arrested, some at their houses. Nearly 150 leading members of the party, including staff, of Suthanthiran were arrested and kept in special detention centers.
K M P Rajaratne, the leader of the Jathika Vimukthi Perumuna, which was a constituent party in the government coalition, was arrested with a few of his leading supporters. The Tamil leaders therefore became the scapegoats for Bandaranaike’s political impotency.
Meanwhile, the country faced anti-government strikes in the last three months of 1958 and in the early part of 1959, organized by the LSSP and the communist parties.
On August 5, 1958, Bandaranaike introduced the Tamil Language Special Provision Bill, while keeping the leaders of the ITAK imprisoned. He appealed to moderate opinion in all communities to march forward together to achieve the promise and progress of a free nation. He said, “I am satisfied that extremism in this country consists of the activities of a small minority, whether they are Sinhalese or Tamils but, that the vast majority of the people are reasonable and moderate and only wish to live together with mutual respect as well as self-respect so that we could march forward together and achieve that progress and that position for us all which we have been hoping to obtain under this freedom we have, freedom for the Sinhalese – yes – remember too – that it is the freedom for the Tamils, for the Muslims, for the Malays, for the Burghers, who are all fellow citizens,- yes, if it is not freedom in that way for all, I too repeat the words of another leader … Shri Jawaharlal Nehru who stated that if freedom meant internal communal strife or injustice or suppression of minorities, to hell with Swaraj.”
On the floor of the House, opposition members raised the issue whether members of the ITAK would be allowed to participate in the debate of the bill. Bandaranaike replied that if the ITAK MPs wished, then he was prepared to bring them to parliament under police escort.
Chelvanayakam was consulted and he told that he was not in a position to reply without consulting other members of his party. Other leaders of the Party were brought to the house of Chelvanayakam, where he was kept under house arrest. It was decided to inform the Prime Minister that the MPs of the ITAK would not participate in any proceedings of the Parliament except as free men. On August 14, 1958, the Tamil language (Special Provisions) Bill was passed in the Parliament.
While the ITAK leaders were held under detention, Bandaranaike as a compromise measure enacted the Tamil Language (Special Provisions) Act No. 28 of 1958. The act, which was adopted in August 1958, was from the original draft of the language bill submitted by the “Sinhala Only Committee”, of the MEP’ sParliamentary Group on May 23, 1956, and especially those articles that had been withdrawn by the MEP Parliamentary Group a few days later.
The act dealt with the provisions regarding education, public service entrance examinations and the administration of the North and Eastern provinces. The act did not contain any enforceable right to use Tamil or any mandatory provisions directing any use of Tamil, but it only authorized the prime minister to frame regulations to give effect to the use of Tamil in the areas specified in the act. Therefore, the approval of the act was a political gesture of accommodating the Tamils, so long as the regulations that were necessary to secure the effective implementation were not drafted and approved by parliament.
On October 4, 1958, the detained leaders and others of the ITAK were released and on October 27 the ban on the Ilankai Tamil Arasu Kadchi and on Jathika Vimukthi Perumuna were lifted. The Paddy Land Act piloted earlier by Philip Gunawardene provoked strong opposition within the cabinet. Left-wingers within the cabinet were in the minority. There arose the Leftist-Rightist faction within the Cabinet and the rightist group was led by the maverick minister W Dahanayake. Also, C P De Silva and Vimala Wijewardene resented Philip Gunawardene and his party members. The Right wing in the cabinet prevailed and Bandaranaike was unable to have his way and he was unable to govern the country.
On May 18, 1959, Philip Gunawardene and his colleagues resigned from the Government and joined the Opposition benches. Thereafter, the Government Parliamentary Group consisted of only the SLFP, whose total strength, including the six appointed members, was reduced to 47 in a parliament of 101 members.
On June 9, 1959, thesSecond cabinet of Bandaranaike was formed, in which C P De Silva retained his position as Leader of the House, but was given added responsibility along with his Lands and Land Development, the responsibility of Agriculture, which was earlier held by Philip Gunawardene. Instead of P H William de Silva of the VLSSP, who was in charge of Industries and Fisheries, J C Munasinha was offered that portfolio. Senator M W H De Silva, who retained his Ministry of Justice portfolio in the second cabinet, resigned after holding the portfolio just for two days, and was replaced by Senator Valentine S Jayawickrema.
Vimala Wijewardene, who held the Ministry of Health, was given Local Government and Housing – considered a sort of a promotion in her importance. P B G Kalugalle was inducted as the Minister of Cultural Affairs and Social Service and Bandaranaike was hailed as the forerunner of establishing a government department to promote indigenous culture. Thus, the MEP coalition was replaced by the SLFP and the name Mahajana Eksath Perumuna (MEP) was subsequently adopted by Philip Gunawardene and his VLSSP followers.
The Prime Minister became more isolated and it was alleged that Mapitigama Buddharakita Thero made use of the right-wing cabinet ministers to curb the freedom of the Prime Minister and made him politically, a weakling.
Meanwhile, C Vanniasingham, one of the leaders and the founding member of the Ilankai Tamil Arasu Kadchi, and the member of parliament for Kopay, passed away on September 17, 1959.
As the factional struggle within the SLFP grew, on the morning of September 25, 1959, Talduwe Somarama Thero called on Bandaranaike by appointment at his residence at Rosemead Place. Just when Bandaranaike was in the act of paying obeisance to the Buddhist monk, Somarama whipped out a revolver and shot at the Prime Minister, hitting him in the stomach at point blank range. It was later revealed that the disillusioned monk, the assassin, was manipulated by former supporters of the Prime Minister. On September 26, Bandaranaike succumbed to the gunshot injuries.
Earlier, C P De Silva, the leader of the House, was taken ill on August 25, 1959, and was sent to England for medical treatment. He fell seriously ill after consuming a glass of milk in the cabinet room. It was alleged that the milk contained some poisonous substance and it was rumored that it had been meant for Bandaranaike. As at the time, immediately after the demise of Bandaranaike, De Silva had not recovered fully and W Dahanayake, the acting Leader of the House, was invited to form a Caretaker Government.
Dahanayake formed his cabinet on September 26, 1959 and held on until March 19, 1960. During this period, he removed nearly all the ministers of S W R D Bandaranaike’s Government from office.
Influential persons within the government were suspected of murder and complicity in the murder. Prime Minister Dahanayake came under pressure to remove Vimala Wijewardene, who was appointed as Minister of Local Government and Housing, and who was by now a prime suspect in the assassination. Stanley de Zoysa, the Minister of Finance, found his position untenable when his brother, a businessman, was suspected of involvement in the conspiracy. When the police arrested Vimala Wijewardene on November 21, 1959, on a charge of complicity in the murder, the Prime Minister had no option other than to remove her from the cabinet. Stanley de Zoysa, the Minister of Finance, resigned on November 23, 1959.
On November 26, seven people were charged in the Magistrate’s Court of Colombo. Charges were filed against: (1) Mapitigama Buddhrakkita Thera (2) Hemachandra Piyasena Jayawardena (3) Pallihakarage Anura se Silva (4) Talduwe Somarama Thera (5) Weerasooriya Arachchige Newton Perera (6) Vimala Wijewardene and (7) Amerasinghe Arachchige Carolis Amerasinghe.
On a charge of conspiracy to murder Bandaranaike, and the fourth person above-named, was alone additionally charged with committing murder. The seventh person, Amerasinghe Arachchige Carolis Amerasinghe, not long after the filing of the charge, received conditional pardon in terms of section 283 of the Criminal Procedure Code of Ceylon, and was thereafter called both at the inquiry and the trial as witness for the prosecution in the case against the other persons.
At the end of the Magisterial inquiry, which lasted for nearly eight months, Vimala Wijewardene, the sixth accused, was discharged on July 15, 1960. At the trial held in the Supreme Court before Justice T S Fernando, Puisne Justice and an English-speaking jury, the third and fifth persons above named were acquitted with the jury returning an unanimous verdict in favor of the former and a 5-2 divided verdict in favor of the latter. The first, second and fourth persons above named were found guilty by the unanimous verdict of the jury and sentence of death was pronounced on each of them.
An appeals preferred to the Court of Criminal Appeal in Ceylon, the appeals against the convictions were dismissed, but in the case of the first and second persons the sentence of death passed on each of them was altered to one of rigorous imprisonment of life. Applications for special leave to appeal to Her Majesty in Privy Council by all three convicted persons were refused by an order of the Privy Council in May 1962.
Meanwhile, within six weeks of the premiership of Dahanayake, a political crisis developed over the plot that led to the assassination of Bandaranaike, resulted in the falling apart of Dahanayake’s ministries. When a motion of no-confidence against the SLFP government led by Dahanayake was won by one solitary vote, the prime minister, without even consulting the cabinet, advised the Governor-General to dissolve the parliament.
Accordingly, it was dissolved on December 5, 1959, and a general election was scheduled to be held on March 19, 1960. The general election was scheduled for 19 March and January 4, 1960 was declared as the nomination day.
On December 8, the Prime Minister dismissed the following five ministers – T B Ilangaratne – the Minister of Home Affairs, Maitripala Senanayake – Minister of Transport and Power, M P De Zoysa – Minister of Labor, P B G Kalugalle – Minister of Cultural Affairs and Social Services, and Senator A P Jayasuriya – Minister of Health. C P De Silva – Minister of Agriculture and Lands resigned his portfolio in protest of the dismissal of the ministers.
Later, Dahanayake resigned from the SLFP to form his own political party – the Lanka Prajatantara Pakshaya (Lanka Democratic Party – LPP). The SLFP refused to accept his resignation and expelled him from the party, whereupon Dahanayake sacked another batch of five SLFP ministers from the cabinet, namely: Henry Abeywickrama – Minister of Works, C A S Marikar – Minister of Posts, Broadcasting and Information, R G Senanayake – Minister of Food, Commerce and Trade, J C W Munasingha – Minister of Industries and Fisheries, and M B W Mediwake – Minister of Local Government and Housing.
During the general elections for the fourth parliament, the SLFP was led by C P De Silva, who was not a very charismatic leader, so the party roped in the widow of the slain leader – Srimavo Bandaranaike – to appear on the election rallies on behalf of the SLFP candidates. She extolled the virtues of her slain husband and appealed to the voters to support the SLFP to continue with the policies of the departed leader. She became the principal attraction of the SLFP campaign. She repeatedly wept while speaking of her late husband. Influential Lake House press embarked on a policy of mocking and ridiculing Srimavo Bandaranaike. Lake House papers published cartoons and caricatures of her, both insulting and vulgar.
Dr N M Perera, the leader of the LSSP, referred the SLFP as “a comic gang” and the UNP as “reactionaries” and referred to his party as that of “Golden Brains”.
Philip Gunawardene, the leader of the MEP, campaigned on the basis of the MEP being the only party capable of ushering in a true socialist society. The UNP was led by Dudley Senanayake, who declared that the foremost responsibility of the UNP was to restore law, order and stability in the country. In general, all the Sinhalese political parties declared the speedy implementation of the Sinhala Only law and of the Buddhist revival.
Dahanayake promised the wholesale repatriation of the Indian Tamils if he came to power. The country was at the crossroads of power politics by the Sinhala leaders.
For the general elections to the fourth parliament, the UNP fielded a total of 127 candidates, SLFP – 108; LSSP – 101; MEP – 89; LPP – 101; the Communist Party – 53; Samajavathi Mahajana Perumuna (SMP) – 40; Sri Lanka Jathika Peramuna (SLJP) -1; Bowshots Bandaranaike Peramuna (BBP) – 1; Jathika Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) – 2; All Ceylon Tamil Congress – 8; Ilankai Tamil Arasu Kadchi – 19 and Independents and minor parties – 167, thus a total 899 candidates were in the fray to win 151 elected seats to the House of Representatives. The total number of registered voters was 3,724,507.
After the delimitation, three new electorates, Udupiddy, Manipay, Kilinochchi and Nallur, were carved out in the Jaffna district. For the first time, G G Ponnampalam, the leader of the Tamil Congress, was defeated by Alfred Duriayappah, the Mayor of Jaffna, an independent candidate and a relatively unknown political novice. Similarly, in the Vavuniya electorate C Suntheralingham was defeated by another unknown novice, an independent candidate – T Sivasithamparam. The ITAK won 15 electorates, whereas the Tamil Congress won a solitary seat – Udupiddy – M Sivasithamparam.
The UNP won 50 seats, SLFP – 46; LSSP – 10; MEP – 10; LPP – 4, but its leader and the incumbent premier, Dahanayake was defeated; CP – 3; JVP – 2; SMP – 1; SLJP – 1; BBP – 1; and independents 7. It was a hung parliament.
Governor-General Sir Oliver Goonetilake invited Dudley Senanayake, the leader of the majority party, to form a government. He accepted to form a minority government. On March 23, an eight-member UNP cabinet was sworn in, with Dudley Senanayake in the helm as Prime Minister and Minister of Defense and External Affairs; Bernard Herbert Aluwihare – Minister of Education and Cultural Affairs; M D Banda – Minister of Agriculture and Lands and Minister of Food, Commerce and Trade; Senator E J Coorey – Minister of Justice; J R Jayewardene – Minister of Finance and Minister of Local Government and Housing; Montague Jayewickrema – Minister of Nationalized Services, Shipping and Transport and Minister of Posts, Works and Power; Dr M C M Kaleel – Minister of Home Affairs and Rural Development and Senator Dr Mahapitiyage Velin Peter Peiris – Minister of Health and Social Services.
Before and after forming the minority government, Dudley Senanayake met the leaders of the Ilankai Tamil Arasu Kadchi, but his response to the demands of the ITAK leaders did not even touch the fringes of the Tamil issues. Chelvanayakam expressed his dismay over the political expediency of Senanayake, when he suggested that the ITAK could accept Ministerial portfolios and be a part of the Government. Chelvanayakam explained that the Party was pledged not to accept any ministerial portfolios until the rights of the Tamils are won. The meeting with Dudley Senanayake ended without any results.
The Sri Lanka Freedom Party, in its quest to form a government, assigned Dr Badi-ud-din Mahmud, the Principal of Gampola Zahira College and an Islamic academic, who was also one of the founders of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party along with S W R D Bandaranaiake, to meet Chelvanayakam. SLFPers made headway with the Tamil leaders. Felix Dias Bandaranaike, A P Jaysuriya, Maitripala Senanayake and the leader of the party, C P De Silva, agreed with the ITAK that if the SLFP was called on to form the Government, the leaders assured to include in the Throne Speech, the Bandaranaike-Chelvanayakam Agreement of 1957, as the policy statement of the government. Later, Chelvanayakam visited Srimavo Bandaranaike, who declared that she would stand by the undertakings of her party leaders.
The first indication of the test of strength of the UNP government was the election of the speaker. The UNP nominated Sir Albert F Peres, who had been speaker from 1950-56. The opposition group nominated T B Subasinghe, an independent MP from Katugampola electorate. Unfortunately, the opposition-sponsored candidate, T B Subasinghe, won with 93-60 votes.
The vote on the Throne Speech was taken up on March 22, 1960. At the debate, followed by the Throne Speech, Chelvanayakam made his Party’s intention succinctly known. He charged that Dudley Senanayake and Jayewardene were the two leaders responsible for leading the march to Kandy against the Bandaranaike-Chelvanayakam Agreement. He described how that march mislead the people and charged that the UNP surreptitiously arranged the protest of the Buddhist clergies in front of the Prime minister’s house, resulting in the repudiation of the agreement, that ultimately led to the reneging of it and which led to the racial holocaust of 1958.
Finally, Ilankai Tamil Arasu Kadchi voted along with the SLFP on April 22, 1960 (61 votes in favor of the Throne Speech and 86 against) to defeat the Minority Government of the United National Party. After the defeat of the Government, Dudley Senanayake summoned an emergency cabinet meeting to call for general elections.
In the meantime, Ilankai Tamil Arasu Kadchi informed the Governor-General that, if he summon the leader of the SLFP to form a Government, then the ITAK was prepared to give unqualified support to the SLFP-led Government for its entire term. Unfortunately, the Governor-General found it impossible to digest a man like C P De Silva, who is from the Salagama cast – cinnamon peeler cast – to be summoned to form the Government. The Governor-General avoided giving an opportunity to the SLFP to form the Government, instead dissolving parliament on the recommendations of the lame-duck Prime Minister and called for a fresh election.
The SLFP leaders maintained in constant contact with the ITAK during the electioneering period of April to July 1960. The ITAK, through its party network, mustered the support of the Tamils living outside the Northern and Eastern Provinces to the SLFP, that led to victory for several SLFP candidates in the elections. The agreement and the understanding reached since the defeat of the minority UNP government remained binding up to the general elections of July 1960.
At the general elections held on July 20, 1960, the SLFP won convincingly with 75 seats and UNP obtained 30 seats. In the same elections Ilankai Tamil Arasu Kadchi won 16 seats in the North and Eastern Provinces. Srimavo Bandaranaike, the widow of the slain leader of the SLFP, was sworn in as the Prime Minister. She took her seat in the Senate and became the first women head of state in the world.
Once the SLFP was ensconced in power, they began to ignore the Tamils and Ilankai Tamil Arasu Kadchi. They not only went back from their earlier pledges to the Party, but also began to launch several anti-Tamil measures. The SLFP government announced that it would bring the Official Language Act into operation from January 1, 1961. In addition, the Minister of Justice, Sam P C Fernando, introduced legislation in Parliament to make Sinhala language as the language of the courts throughout the country.
The Government led by Srimavo Bandaranaike not only failed to honor the pledges to the ITAK, but initiated severe and drastic anti-Tamil legislation to spike the Tamils with vengeance. Chelvanayakam and her men took note of the betrayal by the opportunist Sinhalese leaderships for the second time in succession.
Felix Dias Bandaranaike, a senior Minister and the nephew of Srimavo Bandaranaike, was one of those high-ranking leaders of the SLFP who negotiated with the ITAK, “That promise was given completely under a different political situation. Today, it is a different situation and we must not give room for the UNP to incite the Sinhalese extremists.”
The Sinhalese political leaders were only worried about pacifying the Sinhalese extremists in the country rather than honoring their pledges to the Tamils. For the second time, the Ilankai Tamil Arasu Kadchi, a moderate political organization of the Tamils, gave the opportunity to the Sinhalese leadership to work in amity with the Tamils to bring about harmony, unity and national integration in the country. It was a gesture to bring about “unity in diversity” and again the Sinhalese leadership by repudiating their pledges failed to steer the country in the right direction.
Proclamation by the Governor-General:
By His Excellency William Gopallawa, Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, Governor-General And Commander-in-Chief of the Island of Ceylon and its Dependencies: Greetings,
“WHEREAS it appears to me to appoint a Commission for the purposes hereinafter mentioned:
“Now, therefore, I William Gopallawa, Governor-General, reposing great trust and confidence in your prudence, ability and fidelity, do in pursuance of the provisions of section 2 of the Commission of Inquiry Act, by these presents appoint you, the said –
“Honorable Thusew Samuel Fernando, Judge of the Supreme Court of Ceylon, Honorable Abdel Younis, Judge of the Court of Cassation, United Arab Republic, Honorable G C Mills-Odich, Judge of the Court of Appeal, Ghana, To be my Commissioners for the purpose of inquiring into and reporting on –
“whether, in addition to the persons found guilty by Court in Case No: S C C 8 M C Colombo 23838/A, any other persons plotted, or were directly or indirectly party or were concerned in a plot, to assassinate the late Prime Minister of Ceylon, namely Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike, and, if so, the names of such persons and the underlying objectives or motives of such persons: and host of other terms of reference. Refer: Sessional Paper III – 1965 –
“Report to His Excellency the Governor-General by the Commission appointed in terms of the Commissions of Inquiry Act to Inquire into and Report on Certain Matters connected with the Assassination of the Late Prime Minister Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike.
“On the 22nd day of August 1963 Your Excellency was further pleased to appoint Mr J R M Perera, Crown Counsel, to act as Secretary to the Commission. The Government of Ceylon, thereafter, made available to us the house at No 115, McCarthy Road, Colombo, to serve as an office for the work of the Commission.
“On the 4th October 1963, we caused to be published in all three languages, Sinhala, Tamil and English, in the Ceylon Government Gazette No 13,778 of that date and in recognized newspapers circulating in Ceylon, a notification to the members of the public requesting any person who had any information to give us with regard to any of the questions enumerated in the instrument appointing the Commission to communicate to the Secretary a statement containing a gist of any such information and also to indicate to him whether the person so furnishing the statement was prepared to give evidence before us. Although we mentioned in our notification that statements would be received by us only till October 31, 1963, but we did accept communications made to us or to the Secretary even after the date so notified and right up to the last day on which evidence was actually recorded by us.
“As two of us had to arrive in Ceylon for the performance of the work of the Commission from our respective countries abroad, there was necessarily some little delay before we could settle down to our task. One of us was able to arrive in Ceylon on November 5, 1963, while the other was able to reach the country only a week later, on November 12, 1963. After all three of us was able to meet together in Colombo, we began to acquaint ourselves with (1) the nature of the police investigation into the assassination , (2) the evidence recorded at the Magisterial inquiry conducted by the Magistrate of Colombo prior to committal of certain persons for trial, (3) the evidence taken up for trial of the persons so committed, (4) the summing up of that evidence and direction given to the jury by the trial judge, (5) the judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeal of Ceylon on the appeals filed by the three persons convicted in the Supreme Court and (6) the order made by Their Lordships of the Privy Council in England upon the applications for Special Leave to Appeal made by the convicted persons from the dismissal of their appeals.
“To this end we pursued some 2,848 pages of typescript containing the notes of the police investigation into the assassination, some 3,000 pages of typescript of evidence in the Magistrate Court and some 3,500 pages of typescript of the evidence in the Supreme Court. When our reading had been completed we availed ourselves of the valuable services of Mr A C Alles, Solicitor-General, and Messrs R S Wanasundera and R I Obeysekera, Crown Counsel, in addressing our minds to the question of the number and identity of persons whose conduct appeared to us to require examination and assessment in order to answer the questions reproduced at the beginning of this Report. With their assistance we examined also the speeches as reproduced in Hansard of several Members of the two Houses of Parliament delivered before and after the assassination in connection with votes of no-confidence or other resolutions. As some of the statements made during the course of these parliamentary debates appeared to us of some relevance in our deliberations, we caused number of Members of the House of Representatives and of the Senate to be addressed by the Secretary on our behalf inquiring whether they were willing to give evidence before us. We regret to say that the response to our inquiries was somewhat disappointing. This lack of positive response notwithstanding, we did cause to be summoned and examined a few of the Members of Parliament whose evidence we considered necessary to receive for the adequate performance of the functions undertaken by us.
“We received memoranda from a total of 84 persons in response to the publication of our notification. Of this number 15 were from persons who chose to be anonymous, while four persons clearly wrote under pseudonyms. A not inconsiderable number of petitions were from persons who exhibited in their communications apparent derangement of mind, while a few were mere malicious effusions.
“As we decided not to take into account, as against any person whose conduct appeared to us to inquire examination, any information that could not be reproduced before us in the shape of evidence at our inquiry in the presence of person or persons who might be affected by such information, the information contained in these anonymous and pseudonymous petitions had to be kept out of consideration in reaching our conclusions. The merely malicious ones were similarly disregarded. Many of the communicants preferred to give us only there inferences, insinuations and conclusions: in other words they claimed to do that work which we had been commissioned by Your Excellency to perform for your information. We should have been obliged to them not for their inferences, insinuations, or conclusions but for the material on which these had been based. As a matter of procedure we decided not to summon for examination before us persons who were content to communicate to us merely inferences etc., without giving us an opportunity of considering the material on which these inferences were drawn.
“The response to the notification made by us to the public was generally disappointing. We think it not improbable that the interval of four years between the assassination and the appointment of the Commission may have contributed to this disappointing response.
“When all the material available to us in the notes of the investigations, the statements recorded by the police, the Court proceedings and the memoranda has been examined, we were of the opinion that the cases of only six persons required examination to decide whether they within the Terms of Reference. We thereupon caused notice to be served upon each such persons in terms section 16 of the Commission of Inquiry Act that inquiry would be made in respect of their conduct commencing on March 11, 1964. The two of us who came to Ceylon from abroad then left for our respective countries on November 29, 1963 and returned on March 19, 1964.
“The Inquiry commenced on March 11, 1964, as previously fixed, and in the interests of the convenience not only of the persons concerned but also of ourselves, and with the view to expedite the inquiry it was broken up into parts so that there was no need for all persons noticed to be present throughout our entire inquiry, but only at such stages thereof at which their presence was deemed necessary.
“We held 23 sittings of the Commission at which we caused to be recorded the evidence of 39 witnesses.
“The evidences of all witnesses were taken by us at public sittings, except in the case of four, part of whose evidence was taken in camera by virtue of the direction enabling us to do so in the Warrant issued by Your Excellency. The decision to exclude the public during the course of the taking of the evidence if these persons was influenced by the desire to avoid embarrassment to parties noticed by us which could have resulted had undue publicity been given to that evidence in the press.
“We consider it necessary to bring to Your Excellency’s notice a deficiency in the legal provisions relevant to the Commission of Inquiry appointed in terms of the Commission of Inquiry Act. Section 12 of that Act enumerates the acts and omissions which constitute the offence of the contempt against or in disrespect of the authority of the Commission. Particularly in cases where judges are appointed Commissioners under this Act, we think it is necessary, in order to enable them to perform their functions efficiently and with independence and so better secure the public interest, to extend the definition of contempt against or in disrespect of the authority of the Commission to certain other acts and omissions. It is hardly necessary for us here to attempt to indicate the limits of the area of such extensions. We may, however, take leave to point out that the legislature appears to have contemplated in 1958 an amendment of the law somewhat on the lines we have in mind. We gather that a Bill drafted about the time to amend the Commission of Inquiry Act was not proceeded with for reasons of which we are unaware. The efficient performance of the work of the Commissions and public interest alike demanded the supplying of the present deficiencies of the relevant law.
“In the course of our work on this Commission we noticed instances where persons have made statements in circumstances in which, had we constituted a court, such persons would have been committed for contempt of court. In one such instance, we summoned the individual concerned to appear before us and then admonished him, but we had no authority to punish him ourselves or cause him to be reported to the court of law preparatory to action as if on contempt. If the law continues to be deficient, it may be found difficult to secure the services of judges in those Commission of Inquiry.
Excerpts from the Report
“Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike became the Prime Minister of Ceylon with the announcement of the results of the General Elections held in April 1956. On September 25, 1959, he was shot, in the verandah of his own house at Rosemead Place, Colombo, in the gaze of a number of people and on the following day he died of the gun shot injuries he so received.
“At the end of an exhaustive investigation by the Ceylon Police, in the course of which they sought and received the assistance of officers who came to Ceylon from Scotland Yard, a plaint was filed in the Magistrate’s Court of Colombo on November 26, 1959, against the following persons:-
(1) Mapitigama BuddharakitaThera
(2) Hemachandra Piyasena Jayawardena
(3) Pallihakkarage Anura de Silva
(4) Talduwe Somarama Thera
(5) Weerasooriya Arachige Newton Perera
(6) Vimala Wijewardene
(7) Amerasinghe Arachige Carolis Amerasinghe OI
“1 – Maptigama Buddharakkita Thera – was the Viharadhipati of an ancient and well known Buddhist Temple called the Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihare.
He was the founder and the Secretary of the Eksath Bhikku Perumuna a militant Buddhist clergy organization, which played a leading role in the General Elections victory of Bandaranaike in 1956.
The Buddhist chauvinistic and ethnic hegemony over the Tamils were described in the The Revolt in the Temple, a book written by Wijewardene, the husband of Vimala Wijewardene and the uncle of J R Jayewardene. ” – Mrs. Wijewardene herself admitted that in her 1952 Kelaniya Election campaign she received much assistance from Buddharakkita, the Viharadipathy of the important Kelaniya Temple situated in the Kelaniya constituency. Buddharakkita, according to her, had been entrusted to the care of her husband at the time of the previous incumbent died, and, being the principal lay-supporter (dayakaya) of the Temple, Mr. Wijewardene, according to her, became adviser and patron to the young monk who was then but 19 years old. Buddharakkita used to visit the Wijewardenes at their Glen Aber Place house, where other persons including monks are said to have foregathered to discuss matters appertaining to the religion and to the Kelaniya Temple. According to Mrs Wijewardene Kelaniya Election campaign she received much assistance, her husband, Buddharakkita, and a monk referred to as Rev Paula, all advocated a somewhat modern approach to Buddhism to which expression was given by her husband himself in a book composed by him entitled, The Revolt in the Temple. – Ibid. – Sessional Paper III -1965 page 43.
“Buddharakkita was responsible in a very big way for the abrogation of the Banda-Chelva pact. He was involved in promiscuity. His copulation with wives of leading Sinhalese political elites of the time was the grist to the mill.
“We have already found that there existed between Mrs Wijewardene and Buddharakkita a more than intimate relationship involving the inference that there is a high degree of probability that Buddharakkita could not have failed to disclose to Mrs Wijewardene his plans to assassinate Mr Bandaranaike. We have also found that she knew well and associated with one other proved conspirator H P Jayawardene and that the third proved conspirator Somarama was also known to her. ” – page 58.
“2. Talduwe Somarama Thera – Another Buddhist monk incensed with anti-Tamil feelings. He worked relentlessly in those days to set up theocratic government in Ceylon. He was a native physician and an eye specialist. He was attached to the Government Ayurveda College at Borella, Colombo. He addressed in several election propaganda rallies of Vimala Wijewardene and other SLFP leaders of that time.
“3. Mrs Vimala Wijewardene – She was the member of parliament from the Mirigama constituency. She was the wife of D C Wijewardene the uncle of J R Jeyawardene and the author of Revolt in the Temple, which kindled the Sinhalese – Buddhist communal fervor and decided the political course of the country in the early part of 1950s.
“She was first the Minister of Health until April 1956 to June 1959, and later Minister of Local Government and Housing, from June 1959 till she was removed from office on October 20, 1959.
“That Mrs. Wijewardene struck up a friendship with the monk Buddharakkita who was over 10 years younger than herself was abundantly manifest to us in every aspect of the relevant evidence. She did not attempt to conceal the fact that Buddharakkita was in the habit of visiting her house at Buller’s Lane.”
” – The evidence we received [substantially in camera] from four employees of Mrs Wijewardene – we regret to have to say – leaves no room for doubt in our minds as to the nature of the association between Mr. Wijewardene and Buddharakkita.”
“Some evidence was received by us that certain scurrilous pamphlets had been circulated widely in the period October 1956 to early 1958. These began with the pamphlet published in October 1956 coupling together the names Mrs Wjiewardene and Buddharakkita. It was alleged that Mrs Wijewardene was annoyed that Mr Bandaranaike did not take any action to prosecute the persons responsible for the publication. Her version, on the other hand, was that there was no reason for her to be annoyed with Mr Bandaranaike over a non-prosecution in this matter when there was no evidence available as to identify of author, printer or publisher. Two months after this obscene and scurrilous pamphlet has appeared in the streets, there appeared another equally obscene and scurrilous pamphlet, this time coupling together the names of Prime Minister’s wife with that of his Private Secretary. No evidence was apparently available as to the authorship or place of printing even of this pamphlet.
“It was suggested to us that Mr and Mrs Bandaranaike were annoyed at this publication. Annoyance it seems to us, was undoubtedly inevitable; but it does not follow that they were necessarily annoyed with Mrs Wijewardene. It was surmised that the persons who were attacked in the first scurrilous pamphlet might have caused the publication of the second, but the evidence available to us go to establish the accuracy of this surmise. When the position remained that no prosecution was possible in the respect of the publication of either pamphlet, a booklet appeared in 1958 in which one Malalgoda claimed that Mrs Wijewardene was the author of the second scurrilous pamphlet and that he had in possession the manuscript thereof in Mrs WijewardeneIs own handwriting. Having regard to these utterly worthless nature of the evidence of this man Malalgoda recorded at the Magisterial inquiry in the assassination case, we think it worthwhile to waste time ourselves in an attempt to find the elusive answer to the question as to who was the author or printer of either pamphlet.” – Ibid. – Sessional Paper III – 1965 pages 43, 44, and 50