of Vijaya's killer
the JVP of Vijaya's murder
casket of slain Colombo University VC, Prof. Stanley
Wijesundera being carried by his son, Shalitha (left) who
ironically is contesting the forthcoming April 2 election on
the United People's Freedom Alliance ticket in Biyagama, of
which the JVP is a main constituent party - the party which
killed his father
hundred and forty one closely typewritten pages of the
confession of the man who gunned down Vijaya Kumaratunga,
today serves as a spine chilling reminder that the Janatha
Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) 16 years ago, meticulously planned
and executed the assassination of Sri Lanka's best loved
many, it is still hard to stomach President Chandrika
Kumaratunga's alliance with the JVP.Sri Lanka has not
forgotten the brutal murders, the deadly 'chit system' of
the JVP -which crippled both state and private sector
administration - and above all the execution of Vijaya
Kumaratunga who for various reasons had incurred the wrath
of the JVP in 1988.
with his two children Yashodara and Vimukthi
is diabolical in the backdrop of Chandrika Kumaratunga's
pact with the JVP, is her inane, politically motivated
utterances accusing the UNP of having a hand in Vijaya
Kumaratu- nga's death.
does so, despite the documentary evidence available via 141
pages of a confession made by Vijaya's killer. Chandrika
Kumaratunga for mere political gain has placed the bloodied
body of her husband and father of her children on a
sacrificial altar, accusing another political party for this
heinous crime and thereby consciously benefiting the real
perpetrators - the JVP.
her absolving the JVP of this terrible atrocity, Chandrika
Kumaratunga has succeeded in removing one of the most
important obstacles to the JVP's rebirth in Sri Lanka's
political arena - the assassination of her husband, Vijaya
— Lionel Ranasinghe alias Gamini alias Mahinda
confession of Kumaratunga's killer is a brutal reminder that on
February 16, 1988 a man known as Pahalamullage Lionel Ranasinghe
alias Gamini alias Mahinda alias Jayatilleka whose occupation was
a peanut seller, was transformed by the JVP into a killing
is responsible not only for Vijaya's assassination but also for
the murder of Prof. Stanley Wijeysundera, Terrence Perera and
Nandalal Fernando who were among the more exalted citizens
murdered by this assassin among other lesser known civilians.
Ranasinghe alias Gamini was 27 years old at the time he gunned
down Vijaya Kumaratunga - a film idol and popular political leader
at the time of his death.
his confession to the CID, Lionel Ranasinghe alias Gamini when
asked by a CID officer why he killed Vijaya Kumaratunga replies:
"I killed him because of orders I received from the
Deshapremi Janatha Viyaparaya (DJV) of the Janatha Vimukthi
to Gamini's confession the DJV came into operation following the
signing of the Indo-Lanka Accord on July 28, 1987 with the chief
purpose of opposing the accord and the IPKF.Gamini maintains in
his statement to the CID that at a meeting at the San Michele
Hotel in Dampe, Piliyandala the DJV's Colombo District Leader,
Jayantha, met with him and another JVP cadre called Herath and
there planned the killing of Vijaya Kumaratunga.
states that he together with Herath, a man called Asoka, who was
another leading JVP cadre and Jayantha while sipping Coca Cola and
sitting under a cabana at the San Michele Hotel planned the
assassination of Vijaya Kumaratunga.
his confession Gamini says, "Jayantha told Herath and myself
that we will be assigned a special task.He said Vijaya Kumaratunga
has to be removed. Jayantha further said Vijaya Kumaratunga
supports the Indian Peace Accord; he supports the provincial
councils; he is holding meetings island-wide explaining things to
people.Because of his popularity youth are going for his meetings.
Because of this the bankrupt Left parties have formed a front with
him. The JVP party is opposed to the Indian Peace Accord and
provincial councils.We are fighting arms in hand against the
Provincial Councils Act. Vijaya Kumaratunga's front is being
trained by the EPRLF and PLOTE. They will be used against us to
protect Vijaya Kumaratunga's front. Jayantha said Vijaya
Kumaratunga has been warned by letter. He is working disregarding
those (warnings). He has even been sent the final warning.
Therefore he has to be removed."
then General Secretary, Sri Lanka Mahajana Pakshaya (SLMP),
Premasiri Perera described by Vijaya's mother as Vijaya's closest
friend and political acolyte has been quoted recalling, "Vijaya
knew that the JVP would kill him one day. On February 14, 1988,
two letters threatening to kill Vijaya were sent to my house and
Vijaya's mother's house.On the 15th Vijaya and I went to Ratnapura
together. When I warned him about the danger he said, 'let them
kill me. If the JVP kills me use my death to carry on the
words were uttered less than 24 hours before he was gunned down in
cold blood outside his home at Polhengoda in Kirulapone.
to Lionel Ranasinghe alias Gamini, after he was given the order to
kill Vijaya by Jayantha, he spent the next two days making
preparations for the assassination. He says that after the meeting
at the San Michele Hotel he and Herath were shown Vijaya's house
as well as Vijaya's mother's house by another JVP cadre. They were
told that everyday between 6.00 p.m.-6.30 p.m. Vijaya went to his
mother's house (maha gedera) in the car. Gamini states that they
stayed in the area that day until 6.30 p.m but did not see Vijaya.
next day, Gamini in his confession states that another JVP contact
- Asoka - took Gamini and Herath and showed them different byroads
and lanes around Vijaya Kumaratunga's house.Asoka had told them to
come everyday around 6 p.m. and to wait for Vijaya. Gamini says in
his confession, "I came for about a week but we did not see
Vijaya Kumaratunga even once. On some days Asoka would come to our
house and ask whether we saw Vijaya Kumaratunga. We told him we
didn't see Vijaya Kumaratunga.He then told us to go in the morning
and see whether Vijaya comes during daytime. One day Herath and I
saw Vijaya Kumaratunga coming from the Kirulapone side in a blue
car.He stopped the car by the roadside in front of his house and
got down and went inside. The time was around 10 a.m. Asoka came
that evening.I told Asoka that we saw Vijaya Kumaratunga coming
home during the daytime. Then Asoka said to do the job even in
front of the house on the road.I told Asoka that there is an army
camp near the house. Asoka said that before the people in the camp
get ready we can do the job and get away."
goes onto state in his confession, "After two days Asoka came
to our house on the motorbike.He came in the evening. Asoka told
me that a little way away from Vijaya Kumaratunga's house there is
a boutique and that he will get it for me to do the job. He said
to pretend to renovate the boutique, keep the gun there and when
Vijaya Kumaratunga came in the car, to shoot and get away."
then describes how he was thereafter taken by another JVP cadre
identified as Pala. The latter was the owner of "Pala
Garage" situated close to Vijaya's house.Pala, according to
Gamini had taken him to a house behind the Kirulapone Library and
told him that once the job is over to leave the gun in the house.
had introduced the inhabitants in the house to Gamini and Herath
and told them, "these two will bring a bag. Keep it
safe." Pala had also shown Gamini and Herath a place to keep
the motorbike, which was to be used in the assassination. The bike
was to be kept at another house opposite the first.According to
Gamini all this took place on February 15, 1988 - a day before the
evening, Gamini says in his confession, Asoka took him to the
house of the owner of the boutique they were going to rent. This
house and boutique were situated close to Vijaya's place.Asoka
paid money and said that they will come to occupy the boutique the
next morning. Gamini says that Asoka had told him that the weapon
will be kept in Pala's garage and that Pala will bring it over to
the house of another JVPer, known as Thambi.
next day, February the 16th, Gamini and Herath came to Kirulapone
in the morning. According to Gamini while he waited outside the
Kirulapone Library, Herath went to the second safe house and got
the motorbike.They went to the house of the owner of the boutique
Asoka had rented the previous day, left a hammer and saw they had
brought in a chair, and told the daughter of the owner that they
had come to renovate the boutique. They had also told her that
they were going to take a look at some wood and would be back
shortly. Telling Herath to wait for him, Gamini states he went
alone to Pala's garage.
confession reads thus: "There was a long black bag with a gun
and a grenade. Gamini told Pala to keep the bag in a place close
to Vijaya's house. The bag was then taken to Thambi's house and
kept there."Having attended to this task Gamini went back to
the boutique where Herath was waiting for him. The time was around
then states: "half an hour later Vijaya Kumaratunga came in a
car. I cannot remember its make. A white double cab was parked in
front of the gates to Vijaya's house.The car was parked near a
tree by the roadside. That was near the sentry box. Vijaya
Kumaratunga got down from the car and went into the house. Vijaya
Kumaratunga was driving the car.Herath said that Vijaya
Kumaratunga came. I also saw Vijaya Kumaratunga.Herath asked me: 'Vijaya
Kumaratunga will come out of the house soon. Shall we do it then?'
At that time the bag containing the T56 and the grenade was at
Thambi's house.Then I asked Herath how we can bring and keep the
bag as the army camp was close by? Then Herath said, 'We'll bring
the bag, keep it on the motorbike inside the compound, where the
boutique is and we will wait near the road.' I agreed with
states that he and Herath then got the bag from Thambi's and kept
it on the motorbike parked inside the compound. They waited near
the road. Gamini recalls: "After we had waited by the
roadside for 5-6 minutes we saw Vijaya Kumaratunga coming out of
the house - he came out alone and started talking to a person who
was standing near the gate. That person was wearing a trouser and
a shirt. Then Herath and I got onto the motorbike. I kept the bag
on my lap, opened the zip, released the safety catch and took the
gun in hand.Herath stopped the motorbike by the roadside, about 20
yards away from where Vijaya Kumaratunga was. Vijaya Kumaratunga
was standing in front of his gate.He was carrying a file. He was
standing talking to this person. I shot Vijaya Kumaratunga twice
in the back with the T56 while sitting on the motorbike. He was
standing with his back to me. At those two shots he fell down. I
got down from the motorbike and went upto him and shot him several
times in the head. When I was disembarking from the bike the
person who was talking to Vijaya Kumaratunga ran towards the
house. I shot at him.He ran to the house. There was a double cab
parked by the roadside. There was a person in the back seat.I shot
at him also. Herath had turned the motorbike towards the
Kirulapone side and was waiting. I took the file near Vijaya
Kumaratunga and checked it. Some pieces of paper fell out. I put
down the file. When I shot him at close range the wig he was
wearing on his head fell off. I did not touch it.After that I went
upto where my bag was, picked it up, put the gun in the bag and
got on the motorbike. The motorbike went down Polhengoda
killer states that they rode directly to Dampe, Piliyandala and
that night stayed at a house the JVP had rented in Dampe. He
recounts how the T'shirt he was wearing was stained with blood and
he changed his T'shirt for a white long sleeved shirt instructing
another JVP cadre to burn the T'shirt. He says in his confession
that he believes his T'shirt got stained with blood as a result of
him picking up the file that had fallen out of Vijaya's hands and
was lying in a pool of his (Vijaya's) blood.
CID officer then questions Gamini - "Why did you go upto
Vijaya Kumaratunga and shoot him after you shot him from the
answers: "I thought the shots didn't really hit Vijaya
Kumaratunga. Therefore, I got down from the bike went upto where
he had fallen and shot him in the head repeatedly."
"How many times did you shoot Vijaya Kumaratunga?"
"I cannot remember."
"Why did you shoot Vijaya Kumaratunga?"
"I shot Vijaya Kumaratunga because of the order from the
Deshapremi Janatha Viyaparaya of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna."
the day of Vijaya Kumaratunga's funeral, the DJV issued a leaflet
under the title, "Why was Vijaya dispatched?" The
reasons given were Vijaya's support for the Indo-Lanka
Accord, the IPKF and the provincial councils.Vijaya was
also accused of propping up the UNP, and training a 600 strong
army to attack the JVP. The JVP also issued a leaflet on the same
day slandering Vijaya and accusing him of being a CIA agent.
JVP began its campaign of violence against Vijaya Kumaratunga and
the Sri Lanka Mahajana Party (SLMP) in early 1986. Vijaya's house
was bombed and several SLMP meetings attacked when Vijaya was on
special correspondent at the time wrote that the JVP's anger
towards Vijaya intensified after he took a firm and principled
stand against the JVP's campaign of murder. When the JVP claimed
its first victim, the leader of the Independent Students' Union of
the Colombo Campus, Daya Pathirana, Vijaya said, "The JVP,
which is talking about the Sinhala nation has killed a Sinhala boy
from the south."
the JVP killed Nandana Marasinghe in October 1987, Vijaya not only
attended the funeral but delivered a scathing attack on the JVP,
naming the killer by name.
life story of Vijaya Kumaratunga's killer is hardly any
different to that of thousands of other southern youth who
responded to the siren song of the JVP. In his confession,
Lionel Ranasinghe alias Gamini describes himself as being
the eldest son of lower middle class parents.
studied upto A Levels. He got involved with the JVP in 1978,
and under the influence of a schoolmate joined the party in
1981.He attended the standard "5 classes" of the
JVP as well as a lecture on "The National Crisis."
During the local government elections of 1981 he was
actively involved in the campaign of a JVP candidate -
late 1981, his mother took exception to his political
involvement and sent him to his aunt at Kekirawa.Lionel
Ranasinghe spent the next two years there working in his
uncle's chenas. Returning to his home in Horana in 1984, he
worked as a vegetable seller at the Horana Thursday and
was employed as a security guard for three months at the
Eagle Security Company and since then worked as a peanut
seller on the Horana pavement. In late 1986 Lionel
Ranasinghe met an old acquaintance from the JVP days,
Batagoda Gamage Jayawardena.
the time Lionel Ranasinghe re-joined the JVP in late 1986,
Vijaya Kumaratunga had been born as the new political star.
By this time also Vijaya had come round to the view that
there was very little to choose between the SLFP and UNP and
formed his own party, the Sri Lanka Mahajana Party (SLMP.)
mid December 1986, Lionel Ranasinghe was sent for military
training to a JVP camp at Bambarakanda.This involved
physical exercises, training in the use of firearms,
grenades etc., as well as political indoctrination. In late
1987 he was sent for advanced training to a JVP camp in the
Siripada jungles. The training lasted for five days. On
April 6, 1987, Lionel Ranasinghe alias Gamini left the camp
began his short career with the JVP by executing robberies.
He was involved together with other JVPers on an aborted
attempt to attack the army camp on Borupana Road in order to
obtain weapons for the JVP.
next call of duty came the day before the signing of the
Indo-Lanka Accord. At a house at Hokandara he together with
15 other JVPers were given a lecture about the need to
oppose the accord and given instructions to form groups of
five and incite people to take to the streets.They were also
entry as an assassin for the JVP began when he was tasked to
assassinate SP Terrence Perera. After carrying out the
murder he escaped on a motorcycle with another JVP cadre
called Ranji Malli.
is after Perera's murder that Gamini was assigned to kill
Kumaratunga's comments on the SLFP-JVP alliance
at his last public meeting on January 28, 1988 at Campbell
(Mrs. Bandaranaike) made a very dangerous statement last
week. If J. R. Jayewardene gives a definite date for
elections, she says she will tell the JVP to lay down arms.
Comrades, think. If the JVP is willing to lay down arms at
Sirima Bandaranaike's order, at whose order did they take up
arms? We remember the advice given by Sirima Bandaranaike
and Anura Bandaranaike to those youth under that Bo Tree on
July 28 - to burn national property, burn buses, burn
dispensaries and Sathosa outlets, violate civil laws.Mother
and son and some other 'Dutugemunus' gave the order and came
back to the Walawwa. That momentum is still continuing. It
was Sirima Bandaranaike and Co. who ordered those youth to
take up arms on July 28.She says today, if a date is set for
elections, she will say to them to lay down arms. We ask
Madam: because you incited those youth and gave them arms,
who died? Nandana Marasinghe who always fought for
liberation. Was Nandana Marasinghe killed on Sirima
Bandaranaike's order? Was the Aththa office set on fire on
SLFP orders? Was the LSSP office set on fire on Madam Sirima
Bandaranaike's order? Was Tudawe shot in the head on Anura
Bandaranaike' s order?
Was James Athugala of the SLMP killed on Sirima
Bandaranaike's orders? Were Saddhasena and his sons killed
on Madam's order?This has to be asked. If she can get the
JVP to lay down arms, then she's saying that she's commander
in chief: that its her orders they are following."
final words were not forgotten by followers and allies. In
the months following his death, while accusing the JVP they
also pointed a finger at the SLFP.