killing of Kingsley Rasanayagam
D. B. S. Jeyaraj
"Karuna crisis" facing the Liberation Tigers of
Tamil Eelam (LTTE) led by Velupillai Pirapaharan took a
significant turn when Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan alias Col.
Karuna announced the.......
on the decline
killing of Kingsley Rasanayagam
D. B. S. Jeyaraj
"Karuna crisis" facing the Liberation Tigers of Tamil
Eelam (LTTE) led by Velupillai Pirapaharan took a significant turn
when Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan alias Col. Karuna announced the
formation of a new political party the Tamil Eelam Makkal
Viduthalaip Puligal (People's Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam).
Karuna was to be its president. This act of defiance would no doubt
have inflicted a serious wound to the Tiger psyche.
salt to this wound would have been the subsequent announcement about
the birth of a new Tamil front. The party launched by Karuna along
with the near defunct Eelam National Democratic Liberation Front led
by Gnanasekeram alias "Paranthan" Rajan came together as
the Tamil Eelam Ikkiya Viduthalai Munnani ( United Liberation Front
of Tamil Eelam). Karuna and Rajan were to be the front's joint
was the LTTE going to react to what was an unambiguously open
challenge? The first indication of the Tiger response - in typical
LTTE fashion - came on Tuesday, October 19th evening. Two assassins
on a motorcycle shot dead the well known Eastern Tamil political
activist and ex-parliamentarian of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA),
Kingsley Rasanayagam around 6. 20 p.m. near the Kalliyankaadu
cemetery in Iruthayapuram within Batticaloa municipal limits.
Kingsley had fallen foul of the mainstream LTTE earlier and
penalised, he had not been executed. The Tiger's killing him now was
an unmistakable message. It could be interpreted as having two
the LTTE suspected and feared that Kingsley would be in the
forefront of Karuna's new political party and front. From a Tiger
perspective this cruel killing was a preemptive strike to prevent
such activity. Whether Kingsley was actually planning to do so or
not was immaterial to the LTTE.
the Tigers wanted to convey a clear signal to any person of
political or social stature in the Eastern Province that joining
Karuna's party was forbidden. If anyone chose to do so their fate
would be similar to that which befell Kingsley Rasanayagam. There
would be no mercy!
killing of Kingsley Rasanayagam by the Tigers has shocked and dazed
the people of Batticaloa. Given his close association with the
Tigers for nearly three decades and the service he rendered the LTTE
in the past many people believed that whatever his
"offence" Kingsley would not have been harmed physically
belief can amount only to incredible naivete. The track record of
the LTTE's Numero Uno shows clearly that notwithstanding their past
contributions to the Tigers any person presently perceived as an
impediment to Pirapaharan's progress will be eliminated. From the
likes of Amirthalingam, Yogeswaran, Thangathurai,
Nimalanayagam,Premadasa and Mahathaya to scores of lesser known
people the list is endless.
Kingsley Rasanayagam in spite of his past relationship with the LTTE
has been killed. If 'terror' is the name of the LTTE game in the
east the Tigers seem to have succeeded. People in Mattakkalappu who
knew of Kingsley's "record" with the LTTE realise now how
ruthless the Tigers could be. "If they can treat Kingsley in
this way what will they do to us?" is the fear articulated
three year old Kingsley Rasanayagam hailed originally from Kallaru
in the south of Batticaloa District. He was a Tamil Christian
(Methodist). Kallaru people are generally well-educated and the
village is popularly referred to as "Kalvi aaru" (river of
education) because of this. Kingsley's father who was a schoolmaster
moved to Batticaloa town when Kingsley was quite young. Kingsley
himself married in Thamaraikerny in Batticaloa town and settled down
was involved in Federal Party politics from his student days. He was
three years younger to the Tamil nationalist poet Kasi Anandan from
Amirthakali and was strongly influenced by him. Even after becoming
a People's Bank employee Kingsley kept on dabbling in politics
albeit keeping a low profile.
rise of armed Tamil militancy saw Kingsley lending a helping hand.
Without fanfare or publicity Rasanayagam provided aid and assistance
to militant activity clandestinely. His sympathies were with the
LTTE from the time the Tigers rooted themselves in Batticaloa. After
the Praba-Uma split Kingsley sided with the former. His loyalty to
Pirapaharan had been unquestionable for many, many years.
began playing a prominent role as a member of the Batticaloa
citizens committee in the post-1983 period. His affinity with the
LTTE became obvious only during the years of the Indian army
occupation (1987-90). He was closely associated with senior LTTE
leader and brother of Kasi Anandan, Sivajeyam alias Kugan in
collecting funds for the LTTE clandestinely.
was also involved with the Batticaloa Mother's Front. He played an
important role in organising the protest fasts of Ponnammah David
and Poopathy Kanapathypillai against the Indian army excesses. The
Indians aborted Ponnammah's fast by disrupting it and force-feeding
her. But Poopathy went on and like Thileepan died. She is now
venerated as "Annai" (Mother) Poopathy.
acted as advisor to the Mother's Front during this period and
accompanied their delegations to Colombo to interact with former
Indian envoy J. N. Dixit. He also acted as an unofficial emissary
between the High Commission and the Eastern LTTE. Once Kingsley was
asked to convey a particular message to the Tigers. The Indian army
however was monitoring Kingsley without his knowledge. They
surrounded the place where Kingsley was talking to a senior
Batticaloa Leader, Sitha and arrested both. Kingsley was
incarcerated by the Indians for quite a while despite his role as
the Indian army's departure the LTTE was openly active in Batticaloa.
The first convention of the newly formed LTTE political party,
People's Front of Liberation Tigers (PFLT) was held at Vaaharai.
PFLT branches were opened all over the east. Kingsley being a bank
employee did not assume any official role in the PFLT, but there was
no doubt about his place in the LTTE scheme of things in Batticaloa.
outbreak of war and the escalation of violence in the government
controlled Batticaloamade people like Kingsley vulnerable as their
LTTE affiliations were public knowledge. So Rasanayagam left his
family behind in Batticaloa and obtained a transfer to Jaffna. The
northern region was fully under LTTE control then.
the army regained Jaffna in 1995 Kingsley too relocated to the Wanni
like the rest of LTTE leaders. He retired from People's Bank and
worked in the Tamil rehabilitation organisation and later the
consortium of NGOs.
returned to Batticaloa and family after an absence of more than a
decade after the February 23rd ceasefire between Wickremesinghe and
Pirapaharan. Kingsley worked in Batticaloa as the transport manager
of the LTTE. The man who was very close to Pirapaharan at one time
now came under the orbit of the LTTE's Eastern Commander Karuna
Kingsley's sincerity to the Tamil cause and his long standing
relationship with the LTTE it was only a matter of time before he
became a trusted confidant of Karuna. Kingsley was not a creature of
Karuna's as depicted in sections of the media. His role in the Tamil
national struggle preceded Karuna's. His relationship with the LTTE
too was a fact long before Karuna emerged on the Tiger scene.
Nevertheless, with Karuna as Eastern Tiger Chief and Kingsley
returning 'home' a close relationship between both became
parliamentary elections being announced and the LTTE backing a slate
of TNA candidates contesting under the house symbol of the Ilankai
Thamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK), Kingsley too became a handpicked
candidate of the Tigers. Karikalan selected the candidates with
month before polls the Karuna rebellion erupted. Apart from Joseph
Pararajasingham all other Eastern TNA candidates including Kingsley
were regarded as Karuna's people now. The situation was indeed tragi-comic.
Before the rebellion they were all perceived as Tiger nominees who
took an oath of loyalty to Pirapaharan after nomination. With the
rebellion the situation transformed itself overnight.
mills began working overtime. Rajan Sathiyamoorthy and Kingsley
Rasanayagam were supposedly becoming ministers in a Chandrika
Kumaratunga government it was said. Sathiyamoorthy, a former UNP
politician was killed by the LTTE. It was then felt that Kingsley
was not targeted because of his relationship with the LTTE in
general and Pirapaharan in particular.
election results saw a surprise result. Kingsley had come fourth
with 38, 633 preferences and was elected. One reason for Kingsley's
victory was the fact that former Batticaloa District TULF MP, Pon'
Selvarajah had been debarred from contesting this time by the LTTE.
Selvarajah like Kingsley hailed from Kallar. Thus, the "kallaru"
bloc vote came to Kingsley and helped him win. His star was on the
rise. Once again his name was bandied about as a cabinet minister in
a Kumaratunga government. Karuna's bloc of five MPs was to join the
government it was felt. Kingsley himself stated openly in interviews
that his objective was the development of Batticaloa.
world came crashing down one week after the elections when the LTTE
launched a military offensive. In a bid to avert eastern blood being
shed unnecessarily Karuna entered into an unofficial understanding
with the Tiger leadership and called the fighting off. With Karuna
leaving Batticaloa the ground situation changed.
Pararajasingham despite his 14 years in parliament and open support
of the Wanni Tigers failed to get elected. So too was Ariyanendiran,
the Kokkatticholai Sivan Temple "Vannaakkar" (Trustee) and
erstwhile editor of the Eastern Tamil newspaper Thamil Alai (Tamil
wave). Ariyanendran had the support of people like Ramesh, Kausalyan,
Ram, etc., on account of caste kinship. Both had to get MP posts.
Jeyanandamoorthy, Thangeswary, etc., had all changed 'promptly' and
abandoned Karuna after his fall. But Kingsley to his credit did not
rush to denounce Karuna and swear allegiance to Pirapaharan. People
like Kingsley whose primary loyalty was to the Tamil cause and
movement were in a dilemma. A clear cut choice between Pirapaharan
and Karuna was something they wished to avoid. Events however were
moving too fast and made the question of choice meaningless.
was exerted on Kingsley to resign his seat. The idea was to appoint
the "defeated" Joseph as national list MP and for Ariyam
to take Kingsley's place after he resigned. Both Pararajasingham and
Ariyanendran gave several interviews to Tiger controlled media
organs that elections in Batticaloa were seriously flawed. They
attributed their failure to be elected to the elections being
unfair. People like Anandasangaree, Siddharthan and Devananda
alleged malpractices in northern elections. But telling indictments
about eastern polls by people like Joseph, Ariyam, etc., have gone
a bid to clear himself Kingsley went to the Wanni with his wife and
met the LTTE supremo. They spent several days in Kilinochchi and
Puthukudiyiruppu, but did not get an audience with the self styled
Sun God. In fact no LTTE leader of any standing met with Rasanayagam.
Kingsley realised what it meant to be to fall out of favour with the
returning to Batticaloa, Kingsley was taken into custody by the LTTE.
He was detained in Aayithiyamalai and persuaded to tender his
resignation letter. This he did and was released. Though elected,
Kingsley had not attended parliament and taken his oaths. He was the
only elected MP absent when parliament convened to elect the
speaker. With media reports ofKingsley being pressurised to resign
he was required to present himself to the Parliament Secretary
General and confirm his resignation.
came to Colombo and did so. There was speculation that he would not
accept LTTE diktat and would withdraw his forced resignation.
Kingsley however was in no mood to take risks. According to
relatives he was deeply hurt by the way in which he was treated by
the LTTE. His health too was affected by the trauma. He did not wish
to expose his family to unnecessary danger. All that he wanted was
to quit politics and return to a normal life. So he resigned
was provided police protection in view of his peculiar predicament.
He refrained from politics and began some entrepreneurial activity.
With the aid of relatives and friends living abroad Kingsley started
a small industrial unit manufacturing concrete casting blocks in
Iruthaiyapuram. He also bought a further 18 perches from two others
in the area and began expansion plans.
that fateful Tuesday, Kingsley had gone to the workshop with his two
police bodyguards. When returning they found that they were
extremely low on petrol due to a leak. One of the constables went to
bring a mechanic and petrol while Kingsley remained in the car with
the other policeman,Hemantha Withanage. It was about 6. 20 p.m. when
the two assassins on a motorcycle struck. Kingsley was killed while
Withanage sustained injuries.
LTTE had delivered a powerful message. The Tigers will not allow the
political party floated by Karuna to function in the north-east let
alone Batticaloa. Anyone suspected of playing a part in Karuna's
politics like Kingsley will definitely be bumped off. It did not
matter to the Tigers whether Kingsley was really involved in
Karuna's party or not. He had to be eliminated as a warning to both
prevent the new party taking root and also to discourage potential
Kingsley despite his long relationship with Tamil nationalism and
the LTTE was gunned down by the very same Tigers he helped nurture
and nourish at one time. His death was not the first tragedy of this
sort in the family. His brother in law, Mala Ramachandran - married
to his wife's sister Susheela - had been assassinated some years ago
bythe Tamil "cobra army" (Naagappadai). Ramachandran too
was an ardent Tamil nationalist and was one of those detained for
Tamil politics. Yet the same man was perceived as a traitor at a
later stage and killed.
it wasKingsley's turn. The "Tiger man" of not very long
ago was viewed as an expendable traitor amid changed circumstances.
The practice of killing perceived opponents as traitors was now
turning inward. If the Mahathaya episode resulted in a deadly purge
the Karuna revolt has been worse. Both sides suspect each other and
even their own cadres. Demarcating lines are blurred. So both sides
go on killing in the name of the Tamil people.
killing spree however displays signs of a qualitative change after
the advent of Karuna's political party and front. Apart from young
fighters, elders and others suspected of playing a political role
too are likely to be targeted. Kingsley Rasanayagam is the first
such victim. He leaves behind his wife Sugirtha, two daughters
Narmatha, Tharpana and son Sathish.
on the decline
the main reason for committing suicide has not changed - that being
poverty - the suicide rate in the country has shown an overall
1995 the suicide rate was 8,519 while 2003 showed the suicide rate
had come down to 3,995-throughout the years showing a consistent
decline in the figures.
Police Public Relations, SSP Rienzie Perera noted that the areas
that produce the highest number of suicides are Anuradhura, Kegalle,
Kandy and Ratnapura.
explaining that the foremost reason for committing suicide was
poverty, disappointment in gaining employment, illfated
relationships and failure in an examination are also key among the
causes for suicides.
pointed out that the reduction in the suicide rate was due to
several awareness campaigns carried out by the police and other
organisations making people aware that there are answers to their
problems rather than committing suicide.
to an official from Sri Lanka Sumithrayo, suicide is a complex
behaviour that has biological, psychological and social
implications. While suicide is mainly committed to escape from
painful circumstances or as an act of revenge which is evident in
the notes left behind.
is also learnt that more males commit suicide, but a far greater
number of females attempt to kill themselves. The reason being a
female may go to great lengths to commit suicide in order to scare
or warn others rather
than actually having the notion of dying as the final outcome.
there is also a strong relationship between alcoholism and suicide,
as one third of suicide victims have been found to be dependant on
to the available suicide statistics maintained by the police, the
figures show that in 2003 the most common means of committing
suicide were by taking poison, hanging, jumping into water, setting
oneself on fire, jumping in front of a train, throwing acid on
oneself and the most common in rural areas, especially in the south
is by taking kaneru, a poisonous plant.
ratio of suicide is 1:3 (females to males) and suicides are
committed in both the rural and urban areas.
is also learnt from Sri Lanka Sumithrayo that the decline in the
suicide rate is owing to several factors and key among them is that
poisonous materials are now stored and issued with more care.
other reasons for the decline are kaneru hedges are pruned, mentally
ill people are taken for medical treatment and suicide is not being
accepted under any circumstances.
of the residents left homeless and reduced to begging as a result of
view of the controversy, charges and counter charges surrounding the
southern highway, where a multi billion rupee misappropriation of
funds is alleged, The Sunday Leader today will focus on the
compensation and resettlement of families. Out of an initial 622
families to be re-settled increased to 1,315 after the original
route trace was altered - illegally.
report dated July 29, 2004 by Noriko Shimizu, campaigner of Friends
of the Earth Japan comments in detail on the Southern Transport
Development Project (STDP).
weeks ago, The Sunday Leader highlighted comments made by a senior
attorney-at-law Bruce Rich before a US Senate seriously questioning
the viability of this project which is funded partly by the Asian
Development Bank (ADB) and Japan Bank for International Cooperation
working for an international environmental NGO made a field visit to
Sri Lanka from June 10th - 16th this year. The field work was
conducted together with a Chief Representative, Representative
Office of JBIC in Colombo.
visit covered the following areas: Gelanigama, Kolamadiriya,
Kahatuduwa, Weediyagoda, Gamagoda, Dodangaoda, Attalahena,
Halgasmulla, Ankokkawala, Kabarayamulla, Diyagama, Alubogahawatta
and Wiyawalawatta. In these areas, some 20 affected people (AP) were
directly interviewed and some 40-50 AP were indirectly interviewed.
Sunday Leader also visited some of these areas and we today carry
excerpts of some interviews we held with the affected people.
is questionable is the compensation and resettlement issue. The
Resettlement Implementation Plan (RIP) was prepared to provide
policy and procedural guidelines for land acquisition, compensation,
resettlement, income, and livelihood restoration for AP. It was
submitted both to the ADB and the JBIC by the Road Development
Authority (RDA). It was a condition of loan effectiveness that a RIP
satisfactory to ADB shall have been approved. Concerning JBIC, it
was the condition of loan agreement.
of the examples we produce today of APs will describe how the RIP
has been breached. For instance, P. Kularatne, lives at Diyagama
Kottawa. This is the only site currently used for people on the JBIC
section of the trace.
and his family of five - husband and wife and one school going son,
married son, daughter in law with baby lived on the main Horana/Maharagama
Road. Which was well served by buses. They had three shops with
accommodation for five families at the back. It had electricity and
they had their own well. They had no permanent jobs and lived from
selling small things and casual labour.
area they have been resettled in is off the road with nobody living
nearby. Their means of livelihood have been completely lost. They
now live far from the main bus route and cannot do any small
business as before. They were given a plot of 10 perches, but the
compensation paid was not enough to build a house. They have built a
part, but continue to live in a wooden shed.
land they previously occupied was 30.18 perches in extent which was
owned by Kularatne's mother. As they had lived there for over 40
years, their lives were well established in that area.
paid compensation of Rs. 140,000 Kularatne complained was not enough
to build a new house. The divisional secretary allegedly then
threatened him that they would 'dozer' the house without any
compensation and he would then have to go. So they had no
alternative but to leave. After he built the foundation and wall on
the 10 perches he had been given as an alternative he was forced to
leave his old accommodation so he borrowed Rs .25,000 and moved into
they had no money to complete the house they went to see one
Dayaratne and Somaratne at RDA, Sethsiripaya. Recounting his
conversation with these two officials he said, "I told them
that we did not even have money to build a toilet. Dayaratne said
you signed for this amount you will not get anymore. You lived in
terrible hovels before so now what are you grumbling about?"
violation to the RIP is this. Kularatne is now devoid of means to
live after the resettlement as there has been no income restoration.
He used to have a teashop and this was his main livelihood. The new
place is way off the main road and there is no way he could carry on
with his previous means of income. He is now growing vegetables on
the field that will be used for a playground, as their means of
survival. He has no steady income.
Gnanawathie lives with her 12 year old son. She Received Rs. 210,00
to build a house. "When we told the valuers that this was not
enough to build a house they told us that we will 'dozer' your house
as we did in Hanwella and you will have to leave without a
cent," she said, adding "We were told that we had no title
deed so therefore we were not entitled to more."
said they produced electricity bills and the grama niladhari had
confirmed that they were long standing residents for 25 years. But
she had no choice, but to sign her compliance.
January this year she built the walls of her new home. By April 13,
she had made a temporary roof for the kitchen and one room. She had
to take a loan of Rs. 36,000. "We appealed to Mr. Dayaratne to
give us some money to build even the roof. He said we lived in huts
before so why do we need more?" She pointed out that before
they had electricity and a decent house with doors.
Gnanawathie did receive more compensation which has helped her to
complete the roof on her house.
there are about 15 affected families in Attalahena a resettlement
site near Immaduwa. Each family has been allocated 20 perches. One
family used to have three houses on an acre of land before moving,
but now has space to build only one house. The father and main
breadwinner, suffering from a heart attack and cannot work now. He
used to have his own business, paddy field and trees such as
coconut, cinnamon and jackfruit, including tea bushes within this
one acre land, but now, their current livelihood is only his
only 20 perches of land, they cannot grow trees like before. They
need more than Rs 10,000 per month to live, but the father now earns
only Rs. 5,000 per month from his pension. Compensation to such
families was to have been Rs. 1.8 million each, but they were told
that compensation would be paid in six installments. The house they
have built so far cost Rs. 1 million, but is nowhere near finished.
115,000 has been spent for wood for a temporary house. Two daughters
and one son are unemployed after moving.
family we spoke to the husband is a daily worker and earns Rs. 240
per day. They received Rs. 156,000 as compensation. This family used
to have many trees such as coconut, mango, banana, etc., but now
have nothing. Due to the small plot they cannot grow trees. Although
the RDA have promised pipe borne water and a well, they have not
been given anything yet. They have to instead carry water from a
mile away. They also do not have electricity.
breach of the RIP is this. Although these families were given '20
perch' plots, which is the minimum of the land to be allocated to
each household, titleholders in quantity and quality do not seem to
have been considered. There is no income restoration programme. The
families were never consulted. Information brochures and leaflets
were not distributed to them. The resettlement site has yet to be
developed with an adequate water supply, access to electricity,
access and internal roads, and a drainage system. All the
compensation should have been paid before resettlement. This has not
been the case.
resettlement site at Halgasmulla also near Immaduwa is being used to
resettle families breaching the RIP as it has done at Attalahena.
affected person who did not wish for his name to be divulged said,
his total compensation should have been Rs. 800,000, but so far he
has received only Rs. 545,000. He says the RDA broke many promises.
had said that they would give him Rs. 14,000 by way of an
unemployment allowance, but he only got Rs. 3,000. The RDA had also
promised him Rs. 1,500 for shifting house, but he never got it. The
RDA he states also said they would give him a further payment for
electricity, but this was deducted from his compensation. Although
he has lived here for one year and a half, he has not been given any
document of land entitlement. "I used to have a larger estate,
but it was not taken into account in the compensation," he
issue is this. Whether the RDA has the capacity or appropriate
governance to implement the RIP is dubious.
Shimizu in her report says that when she had a meeting with the RDA
Chairman and four RDA officials, in the presence of the chief
representative of JBIC office in Colombo on June 15, the Chairman,
RDA had promised that the RIP will be made available in District
Secretariats in Sinhala within a month. However, Shimizu asserts
that this document has not been translated even a month after her
addition, at the meeting, she says the Chairman had promised to send
a breakdown of compensation to each affected persons but that this
too has not yet been implemented.
is worse are the stories by affected persons who claim the RDA has
threatened them allegedly claiming that any opposition to the route
or relocation will decrease compensation to those affected. They
have also apparently carried out surveys of the land and houses to
be acquired without issuing prior notice to owners.
highway is certainly a necessity in the name of development and
progress. But governments cannot be allowed to bulldoze their way
through homes and livelihoods ignoring the heavy price on human
is why guidelines are in place to ensure damage is minimised. But in
this case procedures are being ignored and human livelihoods
together with basic facilities trampled all in the name of a
development project for the south. One that has already drawn
international attention and cited as being one among two in Asia of
the worst funded projects that has abused and violated norms and
temple threatened by the changing of the route
temple is the Dharma Chakkra Child Foundation in Weedagama
East Bandaragama. It is an orphanage and meditation centre
both for monks from Sri Lanka as well as abroad. It was opened
by the President in 1998 and established by an Act of
Parliament in the year 2000.
day, the RDA came to this temple and had told the monk STDP
would cross his temple land. The monk signed for consultation.
Later in February 2003, a surveyor with police arrived without
any prior notice. The monk had refused to let them enter, but
police had insisted saying 'you cannot refuse!'
monk appealed to President Chandrika Kumaratunga. She wrote to
then Highways Minister Tilak Marapone, requesting him to
ensure the highway stuck to its original trace and was not
relocated. This however was not done and the acquisition
continues on either side of the Temple, which will eventually
make an alteration impossible. Late September, surveyors
arrived with the Grama Niladhari saying that the monk had
agreed to the expressway. The monk in charge told them that
they were definitely opposed and had sent them off.