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 Post subject: A terrorist attack on a police convoy
 Post Posted: Sat Dec 27, 2008 2:50 am 
A terrorist attack on a police convoy

by Ananda Jayasena
@ The Island - June 2007

In the mid-nineteen eighties, Kalmunai district had a very busy time. Terrorists from the east, who were dormant for some time, became active overnight by lifting their ugly heads. This was under the regime of President Premadasa.

He had organised meetings with the hierarchy of the LTTE in Colombo in posh hotels, and once they came back to the Eastern Province, they started attacking the police stations and road patrols whilst proclaiming that they were saints.

The Kalmunai ASP’s district was fairly large. It consisted of Kalmunai, Samanthurai, Akkaraipattu and Potuvil. Besides these police stations, there were two STF camps, one at Akkaraipattu, and the other at Kalawanchikuddy. The Kalawanchikuddy camp came under ASP Daya Jayasundara, who retired some years back as a DIG.

I received transfer orders from the CID as ASP Kalmunai, and reported there on 5 January 1986. Headquarter’s Inspector Kalmunai was Chief Inspector M. P. Weerasena. The Ppolice station was housed at the old Courts Complex, where the roof had got dislodged as a result of a cyclone, which devastated Kalmunai a few years ago.

The Kalmunai Police station was situated on a more or less rectangular plot of land about 130x40 yards, and just by the Roman Catholic church. Behind the police station was a large lagoon, and beyond this was a stretch of paddy land extending for miles.

I was residing in a room at the Police station, and my office (ASP office), Kalmunai) was situated in an old ramshackle building at Hospital Road, which was about a mile away from the Kalmunai Police station.

In the event, if I visited any one of my outstation police stations I had been given definite instruction by my DIG to travel with a convoy obtained from one of the STF camps, as there had been sporadic attacks on my predecessors on previous trips.

The normal working hours of a police office is from 8.15 am to 4.15 pm on weekdays, but this being an operational area, I was given the privilege of adjusting the time for security reasons. On some days I did not go to my office, but got down all correspondence to my room and attended to it.

When I visited my office, I was provided with security escorts in Hiace Jeeps. Each jeep carried a SI in charge, with three armed PCs. PCs were armed with (SLRs) T 56 Chinese Assault Rifles and the SI carried a sub-machine gun, and they waited outside the office till I finished my work and escorted me back to my room at the police station.

On 6th March 1986, I left my room to the ASP’s office with the usual security men. There were three jeeps, and the first one was in the charge of SI Wijetunga. The second jeep was in the charge of SI Mapalagama, and the third jeep was in the charge of R/SI Samsudeen. There were three-armed PCs in each jeep and I travelled in the first jeep. I was driving the jeep and SI occupied the front seat next to the driver’s seat. The SI was armed with a SMG, and the men had SLRS and T-56 Chinese Assault Rifles.

When our convoy came to Goodshed Road, Hospital Road Junction and entered Hospital Road, I clearly heard a man hooting at the top of his voice. We did not take notice of this, as this was a regular feature among certain farmers.

All of a sudden two men dressed in blue shorts and striped short-sleeved shirts appeared from nowhere, and threw two objects at the passing vehicles. By this time the first vehicle that I travelled had passed the spot. SI Mapalagama and PC Senaratne who travelled in the third jeep got down and opened fire at the assailants. Both bombs went over the jeep and fell on to the bare ground, on the other side of the road, and exploded with a thunderous sound, but because of a wall, we were unharmed.

Our officers who travelled in the third jeep had clearly seen the men throwing the objects, and biting cyanide capsules. They had also observed the two assailants falling on receipt of gun shots.

The two dead bodies were brought to the Kalmunai police station. A search operation was conducted. Three more hand bombs were found at the scene. The remaining terrorists had already fled.

Under normal circumstances finding a dead body, or a case of murder, has to be reported to the local coroner to hold an inquest, but under emergency regulations, by virtue of office, any officer of and above the rank of ASP, has the power to dispose of, or order the burial of a dead body at government expense.

Detailed messages of this incident were given to the Information Branch of Police Headquarters, SP Ampara, and DIG Badulla under whose purview Kalmunai came.

DMO Kalmunai, Dr. V. Salaikanathan, held the post mortum examination on the bodies of both killed terrorists. He found that gun shots had penetrated the chest cavities of both dead men, causing severe injuries to heart and lungs, but he pronounced that both deaths were due to cyanide poisoning. Also, he had noted deep cut marks on the tongues, due to the biting of glass cyanide capsules.

I ordered both bodies to be buried in the back of the compound of the Kalmunai Police Station.

Also, fresh messages were sent to all concerned with regard to the subsequent action taken by me, and of the burial of the dead bodies.

I made files about this killing in quadruplicate, sent two files to the Attorney General, one file to be retained at the Police Office, Kalmunai, and the fourth file for me.

Also, I recommended two Grades to both officers who opened fire, and monetary rewards for the men in the convoy. DIG Badulla, Lionel Ranawana agreed with my recommendation and approved the same.

After about two years, I received summons from Supreme Courts, Bauddhaloka Mawatha, Colombo 07 to attend courts in connection with the killing of two terrorists at Kalmunai on 6th May 1986, and to give evidence.

I appeared at the Supreme Courts, gave my evidence in camera, and the case was closed.

Though both terrorists were fingerprinted, we could not identify them.

The writer was a senior Senior Superintendent of Police.

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