15th June,  2003  Volume 9, Issue 47














The leopard — up close and personal

For The Leopard: A tribute to the Sri Lankan leopard

By Rukshan Jayewardene, Jehan Kumara, Sriyanie Miththapala, Harith Perera, Ravi Samarasinha, Charles Santiapillai and John Seidensticker. Harith Perera Memorial Trust, Colombo. 192 pp. [290×275 mm; ISBN 955–8798–00–2]. Available at the Odel bookshop from June 16.

 Reviewed by Rohan Pethiyagoda

Did you see anyleopards?” The question every visitor to Yala is asked on his return. Even a fleeting glimpse of one of these wonderful cats gives the accomplished raconteurs of Yala’s frequent-flyer club hours of animated anecdote-telling over that evening’s soda and splash. Well, For The Leopard will make those casual leopard-watchers drool. With more than 200 colour photographs including several in full-page and double-spread format, it is a visual blockbuster. As a celebration of the leopard, it is unlikely ever to be equalled. Here is the culmination of years of painstaking observation accompanied by several thousand accomplished leopard photographs, of which only the cream are included in the book.

The leopard is the largest of the four wild cat species in Sri Lanka, and also the most visible (the others, the Rusty-Spotted Cat, the Jungle Cat and the Fishing Cat, are far more elusive and less commonly seen). Just how many leopards there are in Sri Lanka, no one seems to know. The authors estimate that there are between three and 18 animals for every 100 square kilometres of habitat, depending on the availability of prey. A back-of-an-envelope calculation would mean therefore, that Sri Lanka is host to between 600 and 3,500 leopards. As for myself, I would be inclined to plug for a number closer to the higher estimate.

So long as it needs to be done from a vehicle, I doubt if a  reliable leopard census will ever be possible. Direct sightings alone are unlikely to yield accurate results when it comes to enumerating forest fauna  of any kind, especially if they are essentially nocturnal and shy, like the leopard. I suspect more leopards are seen in Yala because they are no longer shy of people, and because of the rather open habitat. Seeing leopards in a regular forest is altogether different, and one needs to look for them from signs such as pugmarks and scats.

Given that Horton Plains is the last national park in which visitors are yet allowed to trek, a parallel study there could be extremely rewarding. Leopards are often seen on the plains, and it is the only place I know in Sri Lanka where you stand a good chance of getting close to a leopard on foot. Leopard scats are common and, if you have a twig handy, full of interest. A little prodding shows evidence of hare and mice (eaten ‘on the bone’) and most bizarrely, crabs. Given the abundance of sambar in Horton Plains, it is strange that these deer do not seem to comprise the ‘lion’s share’ of the leopard’s diet there.

Something I learned from my friend Cedric Martenstyn, after Rodney Jonklaas perhaps the last of the truly ‘wild men’ of Sri Lanka, was that you can safely approach a leopard quite close on foot. Driving on a forest track in the Western Ghats of Kerala at about sunset with Cedric one day in 1993, a mongrel-sized leopard cub crossed the road ahead of our Maruti. Cedric stopped and waited, assuring me that mama would soon be along. We remained there silently, the engine turned off, for about five minutes, but mama leopard failed to show. Not turning a hair, Cedric alighted from the jeep and, urging me to follow him, hared off into the jungle in search of the female leopard he knew was lurking there. She was, just 10 metres or so from the road, sideways-on and glowering at us. We approached her slowly (and on my part with much trepidation), and when we were about half that distance from her, she turned and walked quickly away.

After that I have on two occasions seen leopards at Horton Plains at around dusk while on foot, and noticed that they are at least as frightened of us as we are of them. At our field station near Agrapatana, leopards are common (from their pugmarks and droppings), though I have yet to see one. We have a mother and two large cubs visiting us frequently, getting as close as 50 metres from our house. Pugmarks are commonest in the clay during the rains, but scats indicate the animals are around in the scrub much of the year. These scats too (many of them lovingly preserved in alcohol by the field-station staff), suggest that these leopards feed mainly on animals from Barking Deer downwards in size.

Electric fences

I suspect that the electric fences put up by vegetable cultivators in the forests around Nuwara Eliya (Hakgala, Pedro, Ambewela) are among the greatest threats to leopards in this area. I met a man in 1989 who proudly showed me half a dozen pelts from leopards killed by the illegal electric fence around his property bordering the Hakgala Strict Natural Reserve. Many of these were of cubs. Three years ago the local villagers hunting boar with dogs in the tea gardens just outside our station at Agrapatana had encountered a leopard and speared it. They had sold the flesh in the nearby bazaar at Rs 300 per kg, with the genitalia and skin being donated to the police, who evidently were in need of both.

But I digress. I had watched (from a safe distance) For The Leopard in development over the past several years, relentlessly asking Jehan the one question authors simply hate being asked; “So when will the book be out?” Well it is,  now, and what a splendid piece of work it has become. To describe the content would be to gild a lily— but what touches me most is the dedication and team work this disparate group (they are disparate: I know almost all of them) has contributed to produce this magnificent book. Perhaps the most touching bits are Harith Perera’s posthumous contributions, such as the photograph on page 13 and the diary extracts on page 90. I can but echo Professor Charles Santiapillai’s ready wit: “Harith was the nicest person I had never met.”

Though For The Leopard is driven essentially by its superlative photographs (it seems that there is nothing a leopard does, apart from being born, that the authors have failed to capture on film), its text is both informed and lucid. Two well-written chapters on leopard ecology and genetics, by Professor Charles Santiapillai and Dr. Sriyanie Miththapala respectively, set the stage for contributions by the other authors, who did much of the fieldwork. For the most part the text is written in an informative, matter-of-fact style, seldom flowery and never sentimental (I mention this because given Harith Perera’s poignant role in the authorship, the temptation to be sentimental must have been almost irresistible).

So that we reviewers can earn our bread and keep the wolf from the door, we are required to demonstrate that we have actually read the book and not just skimmed through the pictures with a single lick of the thumb. Duty calls therefore, to point to a few of the errors and omissions I have noted. Of typos there are some, but no more than in most books I have published (no book is complete without its share of typos: after all, they give readers who discover them a sense of gloating, satisfaction and achievement, which can only be good for sales). A few minor points however, might bear discussion, especially in relation to the book’s two ‘scientific’ chapters.

I worry about Professor Santiapillai’s statement (p. 20) that “The  leopard’s range includes a total of 624,317 ha, 78% of the island’s protected area.” While a range estimate to the nearest hectare is probably pushing arithmetic a trifle too far, it must be remembered that leopards exist not only in the 12% of Sri Lanka managed by the Department of Wildlife Conservation, but also in the 17% of the country that is managed by the Forest Department. The total range of the leopard in Sri Lanka is therefore likely to be at least twice the figure mentioned by Professor Santiapillai. Likewise, Santiapillai’s assertion that “Within many of the protected areas in Sri Lanka, the leopard appears to be the least nocturnal of all the world’s big cats”: surely he was forgetting the largely diurnal cheetah?

Genetic analysis

Sriyanie Miththapala’s chapter reviews her earlier (1991) genetic analysis of leopard populations, which served to confirm P.E.P. Deraniyagala’s (1949) identification of the Sri Lanka population as a distinct subspecies, Panthera  Pardus Kotiya. Her statement, “Even the great Carl Linnaeus… named the subspecies Panthera Pardus Pardus as from India, when he meant ‘from abroad’” however, warrants a response, especially since poor Linnaeus is no longer with us. First, Linnaeus did not use or recognise subspecies, a concept first introduced by Schlegel in 1844, more than 60 years after Linnaeus’s death. Second, Linnaeus did not name Panthera Pardus  from  India. His Latin statement “Habitat in Indiis” is not a reference to India (which at the time was not yet a political unit): in the 18th century, Indiis (and India Orientalis) referred to Asia east of the Indus river, as maps by contemporary cartographers such as J. C. Homan and M. Seutter show. Indeed, Linnaeus’s own ‘type’ specimen of the leopard was from Egypt and not India, probably a sub-Saharan specimen shipped from Cairo.

Miththapala’s suggestion that the leopard populations of India and Sri Lanka have been isolated for only about 10,000 years, since sea levels rose from their Ice Age minimum of about 120 metres below present-day level (not 35 metres, as stated on page 44) is, I suspect, under-estimated by at least an order of magnitude. While a tenable land connection existed until c. 7,000 years before present, it seems that endemism in Sri Lanka has more to do with local habitat associations than the ability of animals (and plants) to migrate over the land bridge that existed throughout much of the past 500,000 years.

Thus, it was that many South Indian large mammals, together with dozens of competent species from other motile, wide-ranging groups such as birds, were slow in moving into Sri Lanka. Mammalian oddities include the Wolf, Bengal Fox, Nilgiri Tahr, Four-horned Antelope and Blackbuck. Likewise, many motile Sri Lankan species such as the Jungle Fowl, evidently failed to cross over to India. But this is to pick nits. For The Leopard is a pleasure to read, to own and to wonder at. One can but admire the devotion of the authors to this task, which must have involved literally thousands of hours of observation and a great deal more expense than could ever be recovered from the sale of the book, which in any case is earmarked entirely for conservation. This has clearly been a labour of love, and the diversity of interest and specialisation among the authors make them the dream team to lead the way into conserving leopards in Sri Lanka in the future. (The fact that the authors are credited alphabetically cannot be a coincidence, and is as good a symptom of teamwork as any.) Interestingly, it was partly this same team that facilitated the BBC documentary, The Leopard Hunters, on the leopards of Yala, that served to put Sri Lanka’s leopards on the world map. Jehan Kumara’s story of that endeavour went on to make the cover of BBC Wildlife, Britain’s most widely-read nature magazine.

Given the ephemeral nature of the television and periodical media however, I feel For The Leopard will do much more even than that. For the charismatic species of every country there ought to be a book. For the leopards of Sri Lanka, this book is that book. My congratulations to Charles, Jehan, John, Ravi, Rukshan and Sriyanie; and to Toby Sinclair, the ‘unseen hand’ behind this enterprise: may this lend more strength to their collective arm.

Our child received these burns at her montessori school

‘It’s no small wonder that our child was saved’

By Hemamala Wickramage

On Monday, May 26, Parindi Gunesekere, a Montessori student aged four received severe burn injuries to her face, left ear, arm, knee and parts of her right hand when she fell on a fire that had been lit to burn garden rubbish at the Montessori school she attended. AMI Small Wonders Montessori down Melder Place, Nugegoda is where the incident took place. Small Wonders Montessori is run by two teachers with two assistants aiding them and the school premises is owned by one Mrs. Tissera residing at No. 24, Melder Place, Nugegoda. The question that needs to be answered is who is to take responsibility for the act of negligence that has left a child scarred physically and emotionally at such an early stage in her life?

Child rights

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child put children’s rights on the world’s agenda; it is the most widely ratified treaty in the world and the convention promises children around the world the right to life, liberty, education and health care. At a time when children’s rights have assumed much importance it is indeed a shame to see that Sri Lanka still does not have any state authority that overlooks Montessori education.

According to Parindi’s mother, Chithrika Gunesekere, she had received a telephone call at around 10.40 a.m. on the particular Monday morning saying there had been an accident at the nursery and for her to come there immediately. “I was told to bring another dress for Parindi with me,” said Chithrika. She had then rushed to the Montessori in a three-wheeler and was met by two “visibly upset” teachers. “They told me that Parindi had got herself burnt. When asked how, they explained that a fire had been burning at the school premises and during play time she had fallen on the hot coal,” said Chithrika.

Parindi’s parents on their attorney’s advise have taken pictures of the school yard where the fire had been lit. The area covered in hot coal and ashes is approximately five to six feet in diameter.

“Pure negligence”

According to the child’s mother the Montessori  staff claims  the fire to have been lit two days prior to Monday 26. However, Parindi’s family believes otherwise. “For our child to receive such severe burn injuries it is apparent that the fire was only lit the same morning as the school reopened after the weekend break, she says the injured girl’s grand father H. Gunesekere. “This is pure negligence on the part of the teachers as well as the owners of the school,” says Gunesekere adding that lighting a fire inside the Montessori grounds knowing there are 34 children who will move about and play in the yard is something that no sensible person would do. “I don’t think any of the teachers or assistants there have even one iota of brain. If they do they would not have kept hot coal and ashes from a fire when the children arrived,” he said.

Parindi’s distressed mother says, “Keeping your child safe is almost every parent’s priority. I have never ever let her get hurt like this while in my care. I just don’t have words to explain how I feel about what has happened to my child. She was perfectly okay when I dropped her at the school. But she came back home from Montessori school scarred for life,” said Chathrika.

Fish tanks as seats

Parindi’s mother also claims that instead of garden chairs or benches for the children, the Montessori staff have only kept three to four empty fish tanks turned upside down in the garden for the children to sit on. “It is when Parindi had tried to sit on one of these that another child had pushed her resulting in her falling on the hot coal that was left over from the rubbish fire,” she said.

“We trusted them to take care of our child. The child is in their care for the nursery school hours until we pick her up. It is their responsibility to take care of her in which they have failed miserably,” said an angry Gunesekere.

The incident has raised concern among parents of Montessori attending youngsters. “We leave our children in the care of the staff with the common understanding that the child will be kept safe and looked after well till the school hours end,” said a mother of one four year old attending a Montesori school.

According to Parindi’s parents Small Wonder Montessori School has a policy of not allowing parents to come in with the kids when they are dropped off in the morning. “This they say is due to most children crying when their parents leave. But I feel that parents should be allowed inside the premises,” she said.

Most Montessori school assistants are usually young women who offer their services for a small amount of money. The absence of a regulatory authority leaves room for almost anyone to become a Montessori assistant or teacher. If they are qualified enough or whether they have a genuine interest in the work relating to children there seems to be no one to oversee.

Parindi’s grandfather believes mushroom  Montessories that spring up everywhere should no longer be allowed. “Why can’t the authorities take action against these and bring in rules to establish standards for these schools?” he asks. But what most people including Parindi’s grandfather do not know is that there is no state authority in charge of these institutions.

 No one’s baby

The Education Ministry is clueless as to who holds responsibility over the country’s Montessori education. When asked whether they are in charge of Montessori schools since these are institutions where early childhood education is provided to youngsters, The Sunday Leader received a curt reply from one official who said “no, no, we don’t have time for those.” These early childhood education centres seems to be nobody’s baby with the Childcare and Probation Department too claiming Montessories do not come under their purview. (See box)

In most Western countries becoming a childcare worker without being registered with the local authority could even lead to prosecution. Before such persons’ are registered qualifications for training in first aid and other emergency treatment is taken into consideration. Moreover, 24 hour abuse and neglect hotlines to report emergencies are in operation for the benefit of parents and children who may need assistance.

Montessori education should have set standards — standards that need to be followed and should be routinely monitored and inspected. A license for a Montessori school should be issued only after appointed inspection staff carry out onsite investigations. But the current practice in place leaves much to be desired.

Meanwhile, the Dehiwala Mount Lavinia Municipal Council admits that Small Wonder Montessori at Melder Place falls within their designated area to be registered as a business.  According to the Council’s, Revenue Inspector Sarath Perera,  before a license for a Montessori school is issued building inspectors would carry out onsite investigations. Also a valuation officer would submit a report and before the license is issued the extent of the premises in square feet is taken into account. When asked whether they take into consideration the safety and suitability of a premises — for extremely young children to spend time in, or the qualifications of the staff before a license is issued or renewed he replied in the negative. All attempts by The Sunday Leader to contact the owner of Small Wonders Montessori School proved futile.

Crying need for national policy

Speaking to The Sunday Leader, Assistant Commissioner, Probation and Childcare, A. E. Ariyadasa said the country does not have national standards or a national policy on Montessori education. “Anyone who wants to can start a Montessori school anywhere they like,” said Ariyadasa. However, according to him the issue of regulating Montessori education has been receiving some attention. “Well this issue was debated sometime back in public forums. It’s very unfortunate that no solid action has still been taken with regard to this,” said Ariyadasa.

Under current regulations only day care centers need to be registered at the Probation and Childcare Department and this is not a compulsory regulation. “Individuals operating day care centers are encouraged to register with us as government grants are available for the purpose of supplying food to children in day care centers for those who register,” said Ariyadasa.

Police awaiting AG’s Dept. advise

Kohuwala Police is currently conducting investigations into the incident where a four year old Montessori student received severe burn injuries while in the care of her Montessori teachers. Speaking to The Sunday Leader Kohuwala Police OIC D. S. Tissera said they are awaiting advise from the Attorney General’s Department with regards to pressing charges. “Since there are so many people involved in this issue,  for example the person who lit the fire, the owner of the premises, as well as the teachers and assistants of the school under whose care the child was in at the time of the accident, we have approached the AG’s Department with this,” said Tissera.

Playing with fire

Fire is one of the most treacherous elements man can face. Yet from ancient times up to modern day, entertainment people have been willing to put themselves in potentially hazardous situations to perform with fire.

Why would anyone be willing to get into this high-risk situation? A handful of fire eating dangers include the ‘blowback,’ which could collapse a lung: achieved by breathing in whilst the fire torch is in the mouth, or if the participant blows windward. The shock can induce a heart attack and eyes are susceptible to damage. The likelihood of burns to the skin is also a notable threat.

In relation to the Kandyan Dancers of Sri Lanka the fire aspect of the ritual they perform is only one component of the ritual as a whole. This is an important ceremony to pay homage to the  Buddha. This form of worship dates as far back as a passage on the Buddha from the Mahaparinibbana Sutta records. This passage tells of the time the Buddha’s body was lying in state and musical performances inclusive of dance, song and orchestration were held in his honour. The ceremony was the lay patrons portrayal of their deep veneration for Lord Buddha, through unreserved expression. The present day Kandyan dancers’ drumming and dancing ritual is known as Sabola-puja, or ‘offering of sound.’ The fire ritual aspect of the dance includes running a flaming baton across bare arms, eating fire and walking over a bed of red-hot coals.

Fire walking

The fire walking part of the ritual can be traced back to the epic tale of Rama and Sita. Ravana, the King of Ceylon abducted Princess Sita of India, and when her husband, Rama, took her back she proved her chastity (during her enforced stay with Ravana) by walking across red hot embers unscathed.

The symbolism of the dance denotes the celebrant’s ability to charm the fire and drive off invisible evil spirits. Absolute faith is, allegedly, what protects them from the coals, which are hot enough to melt aluminum. As well as driving out these evil spirits they are calling out for the assistance of other spirits to help them do so.

This devout faith is sharply contrasting with the blatant exhibitionism of circus acts. These people perform with fire for the benefit of the crowds and those doing it for television are ultimately pushing danger boundaries for ratings. When Thomas Wood, pyrojuggler was asked whether fire eating hurts, he replied “It’s fire people.” He gave the same reply after questioned if it is hot, and revealed – “The real trick to fire eating is that it is not a trick at all. I really am taking a large flame and putting it in my mouth.” No doubt there is a great rush in testing your fear limitations, however Wood answers simply to the question of why one would eat fire if it hurts – “for you!”

It is necessary to mention the Kandyan dancers charge for the privilege of watching them and the tourist touts at the entrance are a clear indication that it takes more than warding off evil spirits to make things tick these days.

Seeking solutions

Other than entertainment and the purging of evil spirits another example of why one might partake in fire activities is to search for solutions to life’s problems. “Chief Kapurala’ Somipala Ratnayake at Kataragama Devale claimes those coming to Kataragama are there to seek solutions for various problems for which they have no other resources. Prior to the traditional ceremony the participants prepare by abstaining from meat and other vices, engaging in deep prayer and meditation and seeking the gods’ blessings. Today hundreds of pilgrims can be seen walking over the red-hot live coals. If they emerge un-injured this is proof the devotees are in an intoxicating trance, sustained by their devotion to God. Burns are a result of a lack of unadulterated devotion and purity.

No one answer can be ascribed to the question of why people endeavour to purposefully play with fire. It is clearly a guaranteed money spinner, but due to fire’s deep rooted cultural significance, the fire rituals connotations are  more than mere showmanship. Ultimately, to perform with fire is to tame a potentially lethal force, thus harnessing a considerable power.

Miles away  from Colombo in Delgoda,  lives this young man who is struck with an illness which is hitherto unknown to the world

‘Please tell me what is happening to me’

By Ranee Mohamed

The road leading to the Meegahawatte police is a de-serted stretch that extends without any hope of luxurious living. People walk for long distances to acquire bare essentials.  And it is down this long road that 32 year old Chaminda Wikremaratna lives with his wife and five year old son.  But Chaminda does not trek down the parched lanes, that is because he has no leg.

But it was only a few years ago that Chaminda was a strong young man.  In 1996, when he knocked his leg on a wheelbarrow, it was just one of those everyday accidents that we all meet with when we rush around. And when he experienced a ‘shooting pain’ in that same leg he thought that it was some muscle pain and rushed to their family doctor. “We were living in Talawathugoda at that time.Though our family doctor treated me, the pain did not go away. So  he referred me to another doctor, who took an X ray and said that there was nothing wrong with the bone, but a nerve had been damaged,” explained Chaminda.

 Chaminda subsequently had to undergo three operations, but still the pain continued. By this time Chaminda could not keep his foot on the ground.

Operation a success

“Then I went to see Dr. Sridharan and I experienced no pain thereafter. The operation was a great success,” recalls Chaminda.

Thereafter, Chaminda had to travel to India, and when in India, he had experienced some pain and had to be admitted to hospital.

“I was told that I had to undergo a surgical operation and after this surgery in India I had no pain,” said Chaminda.

Two weeks after  returning  from India, everything seemed okay. But one day, to  Chaminda’s consternation he found that there was a mark that appeared from the scar of the surgical operation in India.

“I went to about six doctors, but they were perplexed. They could not find out what was wrong with me,” said Chaminda.

It was at this time that Chaminda had gone in search of Orthopaedic Surgeon Dr. S. Sridharan.

The doctor had commenced immediate treatment. “He admitted me to hospital and started treating this scar with an immediate operation. When he was treating one place, the burning scar and painful degeneration occurred elsewhere. Now it had spread upto my knees. Though this doctor tried his best to save my leg, he could not. The degeneration occurred before my very eyes. My muscle and skin just rotted away giving me immense pain. And I had to amputate my leg. I will never forget this doctor for he even spent on anaesthesia for me. The drugs involved in my case are expensive, costing about Rs.35,000 a month,” cried Chaminda.

Continuous degeneration

Even today as you read this article there is heavy degeneration going on in Chaminda’s body. In the morning there is a mark like a small birthmark that begins to burn, by evening it has expanded to one as big as a tennis ball and the burning sensation is even more unbearable. Then it begins to sore and degenerate.

Chaminda’s condition is a mystery. It is a rare disease, possibly a germ caught from somewhere the doctors believe.

“What is this disease. Please help me. Already I have had to cut off two toes on my other leg and my condition will mean that I will lose this leg too, unless someone, in some country, helps me or finds me a cure,” begged Chaminda.

Chaminda who sews to make a living, has appealed to the President’s  Fund but to  no avail. “This is not a cancer I am told, but I have to undergo chemotherapy. Tomorrow I have to undergo a skin graft to cover this degeneration,” said Chaminda, Wednesday morning last week. His heel is affected too. “How can I cut off my heel?” Chaminda asks me with tears in his eyes. His only hope is Dr. Sridharan who has stood by him during this most painful time in his life.

There is sadness all around their home. Chaminda lives with his wife, child and his parents in a small annexe in a small house. Their address is 217/2, Meegahawatte, Delgoda. Confined to a wheel chair, there are tears in his eyes as he expresses his fears of the future. If this condition continues, Chaminda and his family will soon be out of their small annexe too, and on the road, on which Chaminda will never be able to walk on.

Not responding to treatment

Doctor S. Sridharan who is treating Chaminda said that Chaminda is not responding to the treatment being administered him.

He says that his condition may be vasculities or bioderma gungrenosa. Dr. Sridhran  according to Chaminda has even searched the internet for a possible cure. He does not know why Chaminda is not responding to the treatment.

The doctor said that his condition is not due to an infection but could not exactly say how Chaminda had acquired the disease.

Cops of a rare calibre

By Shezna Shums

‘Killed in the line of duty’ was the first thing that struck my mind when The Sunday Leader covered the press conference last Monday at police headquarters where IGP T. E. Anandarajah handed over a reward to a police officer’s family and another officer for courageous work.

Last year on May 12, two officers, RPS Mahinda Padmasiri and RPS K. G.  Navaratne were escorting a van that was transporting cash to Nippon Fashion factory in Yatiyantota.

While the van was on its way to the factory six army deserters stopped the vehicle in the hope of robbing the cash.

When the vehicle came to a halt both RPS  Padmasiri and RPS  Navaratne were  engaged in a face-to-face gun battle  with the attackers.  RPS  Navaratne was hit and died on the spot while RPS Padmasiri continued to protect the vehicle and the cash totalling over Rs. 7 million.

RPS Padmasiri was able to bring the situation under control and take the van along with the money to the Kabullumulla police station.

Although the vehicle and the money were saved, RPS  Navaratne lost his life in that incident,  leaving behind his wife Thushari Priyanthi and their two children, Yasoda Lankame aged 10 and their son Shihan Kaneshke aged  four.  The couple had been  married for 10 years.

RPS K. G. Navaratne had joined the police in 1988.The police last week  rewarded RPS  Navaratne for his courage and gave the family Rs.100, 000 however wife Thushari  says she cannot go to work as she has to care for her children and her daughter has a growth in her stomach where at times she faints  and has to be immediately taken to the hospital. “My parents are too old to look after my children for me to go to work so I have no income. The salary my husband was getting has also been  stopped so I am dependant on  my parents.” Her father has a small business but it is not enough to support the family.

Thushari now lives with her parents K. Padmalatha and K. Thilakaratne in Padukka.

RPS Mahinda Padmasiri who was also rewarded is still serving in the police force and is still working at the Yatiyantota police station. RPS Mahinda Padmasiri is truly brave and will not hesitate to give his life for his work, as did his fellow officer RPS K. G. Navaratne even if their work goes  unnoticed by the public who take these officers for granted.




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