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 Post subject: Lance Corporal W.I.M. Seneviratne
 Post Posted: Sat May 26, 2007 10:04 pm 
Lance Corporal W.I.M. Seneviratne
Killed whilst foiling a suicide bomber in Jaffna

Lance Corporal Seneviratne astride his motor bicycle, twenty metres behind the vehicle, suddenly spotted a woman, who appeared to be pregnant, hurriedly moving towards the vehicle. Suspecting that she could be a suicide bomber, he acted instantly, moving his motor cycle forward to block her path. Realising that she could not proceed, the woman detonated the explosive device that had been strapped to her body, killing herself and Seneviratne in the blast.

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@ LL / ST

Lance Corporal W.I.M. Seneviratne, serving in the 7th Battalion of the Sri Lanka Light Infantry, was killed saving the life of a Cabinet Minister. In recognition of his bravery, he was posthumously awarded the Parama Weera Vibushanaya, the highest award for gallantry.

Captain Lalith Hewa, then an Adjutant was an eyewitness to the incident. L/Cpl. Seneviratne, a non-commissioned officer, was attached to 51st Division in Jaffna as a member of the 'Quick Reaction Team', which had troops on motorcycles, Capt. Hewa related. Capt. Hewa was also in the motorcycle escort squad.

On July 4, 1996, a sales outlet of the Building Materials Corporation was to be ceremonially opened at Stanley Road in Jaffna and Seneviratne was assigned to provide protection for the Minister of Housing and Public Utilities, Nimal Siripala de Silva. The Minister was accompanied by Commander 512 Brigade, Brig. A.S.S.K. Hamangoda. When the ceremony was over and the Minister and the Brigade Commander were about to leave, L/Cpl. Seneviratne astride his motor bicycle, twenty metres behind the vehicle, suddenly spotted a woman, who appeared to be pregnant, hurriedly moving towards the vehicle.

Suspecting that she could be a suicide bomber, he acted instantly, moving his motor cycle forward to block her path. Realising that she could not proceed, the woman detonated the explosive device that had been strapped to her body, killing herself and L/Cpl. Seneviratne in the blast.

By his action, L/ Cpl Seneviratne saved the life of the Minister and many others who were gathered there for the occasion. He was recommended for the award of the Parama Weera Vibushanaya by his Commanding Officer, Lt. Col. K.A.D.A. Karunasekera and the medal was presented on October 10, 1998 at a ceremony held at the BMICH.

Seneviratne's mother received the medal from the President, as his father was unable to attend due to ill health.

Seneviratne's parents live in Kobeigane, Kurunegala, with their married daughter, her husband and child. The family are paddy farmers.

Seneviratne studied at Parakrama Maha Vidyalaya at Kobeigane up to the Ordinary Level examination.

"He wanted to join the Army from his small days," said R.A. Punchihamy, Seneviratne's mother, recalling that it was against their wishes. Seneviratne, who joined in 1987, was trained at Maduru Oya and served in Trincomalee, Ampara and Jaffna.

"He was injured three times in the North, twice at Elephant Pass and once at Palaly," Punchihamy said. Seneviratne was 28 when he died.

"After my son's death, Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva came to see us.

The Minister also visited the home of another soldier, Pushpakumara from Kalupotha who was on the same motor bicycle as my son and who also died in the blast. At the time we were building this house, and had just laid the foundation," Punchihamy said.

"The Minister promised to help us. And the Housing Development Authority (NHDA) gave us Rs.50,000. All the compensation we received from the Army also went into the building. We finally managed to complete the house in January 1998, although more remains to be done."

As far as the Army is concerned, the family have received their dues. But the family is greatly concerned about their failure to get an electricity connection for their house.

"The Minister promised to get us the electricity," Seneviratne's father W.I.M. Gunawardane said. "My grandson went to Colombo and spoke to him. We have seen the Chief Minister of Wayamba, who told us that he would give us the money later as there are no funds available at the moment. We have even written to the President.

"Electricity lines have been connected close to our house but 12 houses on this road have no electricity yet." Their only hope is that they will get the connection soon.


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