School Principal Murdered By Former Student
By Niranjala Ariyawansha
My father Anura was stabbed in front of me. The knife was twisted and removed from his body. My father’s face was contorted. He ran out in a frenzy. I ran behind him. When I was running I was attacked with a pole. It was aimed at my head but it hit my arm. My father fell in front of my grandmother’s house. I cradled his head in my arms. He kept staring at my face. That was all.”
Lahiru Sandakelum Edirisinghe, the younger son of Anura Mahanama Edirisinghe (52), the Principal of Yakkalamulla, Minuwandeniya Junior School, Galle, has been left destitute after the killing of his father. He did not cry nor wail. He simply would not speak.
Anura Mahanama Edirisinghe was a graduate from the Jayawardenepura University and had teaching experience of over 16 years. Of that the last ten years had been at the Minuwandeniya Junior School as it’s principal. He was married to Dolamulla Kankanamge Swarnalatha (42) . They had three children.
The elder son, Anushka Edirisinghe (22) is employed at L B Finance whilst Lahiru Sandakelum (19) is a student at Akuressa Maha Vidyalaya. He is to sit the GCE (A/L) examination starting on the 6th of this month. Sixteen-year-old Dinithi Edirisinghe is also a student of the same school attending A/L classes.
On the 28th of July, Anura together with his wife Swarnalatha returned home around 5.30 pm after cultivating in their chena. They were tired and called out to their daughter.
“My father and mother called out to me and asked for two cups of tea as they were very tired. In fun I said that only my mother would get a cup of tea. I brought two cups of tea for them and heard my father say that he was extremely tired and would prefer just one vegetable with rice for dinner so that he could go to bed early. All five of us were at home,” Dinithi said.
After consuming his tea Anura had walked about in front of his house and came in by 6.30 pm.
“Suddenly about 15 to 20 persons carrying swords and poles stormed into our house. They asked for my brother Lahiru. They used filthy language on us. It was so quick. There was Galapathi, Sampath, his brother and even women in that mob. As they came in they hit my elder brother. A blow with a sword aimed at his head was warded off by him which cut his arm. He was bleeding profusely. My father shouted at them to stop it”.
Lahiru explained the rest, “Those who came first attacked the three of us. They pushed my mother to the ground and hit her and even trampled her. My father who had his mobile phone in his hand called the Police. He also called Sisira a Pradaysheeya Sabha Member known to him. I heard him say to Sisira that these people were trying to kill us. It was at that stage Sampath stabbed my father”.
Lahiru had run behind his father to escape the mob who were acting in a frenzy. Though a blow was aimed at his head with a pole it struck his arm.
The mob had fled by that time. No one had assisted the injured to get to hospital. The injured were lying there for over an hour. A three wheel driver who came by later had transported the critically injured Principal to the hospital. Another car had taken Anushka to the Karapitiya Hospital in Galle.
Sampath, who led the mob had turned up at the hospital seeking to cause further harm but workers at the hospital had turned him away.
The deceased Principal’s daughter was distraught. “I cannot believe this. Why was my father killed? They were students of my father when in school. He taught them. Everyone in the village knows how kind and helpful my father was.”
The residents of Ella north in Yakkalamulla speak highly of Anura Mahanama. He was a Justice of Peace and one time member of the Pradesheeya Sabha from the UNP. It baffled many why such a good man was killed and ironically by students whom he had taught.
“After my father was killed one newspaper had carried a distorted report. It referred to a friendship between me and some girl at which Sampath was annoyed. It added that the murder was consequent to this. It also said that Sampath’s brother Chuti had also liked the same girl. This is a big lie. This is an insult to my dead father”.
It is Lahiru’s opinion that the real issue is something else. He says that he is friendly with another group of boys in an adjacent village called Uduwella and Sampath was angry about it. There had been bad blood between that group and Sampath.
“On the 27th Friday there was a pirith ceremony at a nearby house. I went there with my friends from Uduwella. About 10 pm we were outside at the pirith house when two persons came astride a motor bike and veered towards us as if to run us down. We had to jump into the drain to escape injury.”
Lahiru recounted that he was attacked on the next day by some persons who came on motor bikes when he returned to the pirith ceremony house to run an errand.
“I told them that I had not harmed them in any way. I asked them why they were angry. On my return to my house I informed my father of this who asked me to make a police entry”.
The Officer in Charge of the Yakkalamulla Police Station confirms this. “On the 28th Lahiru Sandakelum has made such a complaint. It is recorded in the minor offences IB. It refers to an assault. This crime had taken place a short while after he went home after making this complaint”.
Dinithi, the sister confirmed that the mob would have been annoyed that a police complaint was made. Sampath alais Wambotta had been in remand previously for assaulting a police officer. She suspects that Sampath would have been angry that he would be remanded once more on his brother’s complaint. She couldn’t imagine any other reason why he should have killed her father. The family too says that the Police visits Ella north on a regular basis hinting that it was a hot bed of violence.
The dead Principal’s niece Prabha Edirisinghe was to elaborate. “A lot of youth in this village take drugs. It is all over this place. Most of the time these youth ride motor bikes or three wheelers wasting their time. They do not study. They do not listen to elders. They are the ones in control”.
Dinithi says that another Principal of a school in this area had been killed in a similar manner prior to this. They were also now under death threats from Sampatrh and his group of thugs.
Sampath alais Wambotta and a further seven have been remanded for this crime. This has not prevented his family members threatening the two brothers.
Anura Mahanama’s remains were interred at their family burial grounds on the 30th though Anushka the elder son who received cut injuries due to the attack is still receiving treatment at the Karapitiya Hospital.
“I have to sit for my exams on the 6th. How do I face such a test when I can yet see my father’s face vividly. How can I collect my thoughts to sit an exam?”, said Lahiru.
Police Spokesperson Ajith Rohana confirmed that investigations were continuing. “At present the main suspect and six others have been arrested and remanded. We are searching for two more. The Yakkalamulla Police will be watchful to ensure the safety of the family”.