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Who killed Alfred Durayappah?

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 I still remember vividly the day in 1975 he came with photographs of the slain Jaffna Mayor showing gunshot wounds in the stomach. Durayappah mixed easily with all, castes notwithstanding. He would sit down with his voters and sip drinks and have lunch in their homes.

by Pearl Thevanayagam


(October 01, London , Sri Lanka Guardian) The late Augustine Saverimuttu, Jaffna correspondent for the Sunday Observer was a daily visitor to my house which was Jaffna M.P. C.X. Martyn’s official residence and which had a telephone, a luxury in those days. He was given carte blanche to use the telephone to send his stories to Lake House.


I still remember vividly the day in 1975 he came with photographs of the slain Jaffna Mayor showing gunshot wounds in the stomach. Durayappah mixed easily with all, castes notwithstanding. He would sit down with his voters and sip drinks and have lunch in their homes.

Fast forward to 1995. I met Aunty Winnie, the MP’s wife who was residing in Nugegoda, and she told me this incident of Velupillai Pirabakaran. Our house was always filled with visitors seeking favours from the MP and those who campaigned for elections. She told me that a young man wanted to meet the MP. Aunty Winnie answered the door and when asked for the nature of his visit he said that he could get rid of anyone campaigning against the MP. Aunty Winnie was highly perturbed by this and told him the MP was in Colombo and that she would convey this message to him. VP was in shorts and barely out of his teens.

Reading K.T.Rajasingham’s narrative on the mayor’s murder I felt I needed to relate another incidence in UK. I had just arrived in the UK and was fresh-behind-the-ears enthusiasm in everything relating to the rights of the Tamils. The Tamil rebellion which began with Kuttimani and Co, the caste war in Jaffna particularly along the Gurunagar coast where the traditional Karayar fishing community fought with Pallar and Parayar ( two depressed castes among Tamils) over fishing rights escalated into hand grenade throwing and small-scale violence. The first ever hand grenade was thrown into our house when Augustine Saverimuttu left the light on in the section where the MP resided. The clashers thought the MP was in the house. I was preparing for my O/Ls and revising on the verandah when there was this huge explosion. Luckily I was not hurt but a few tiles to the dome of the verandah was damaged and I suffered shell-shock which led to my not sitting the exam that year in 1972.

Now in 1977 I came to the UK and met a few Tamils at a wedding reception. Subsequently I was invited to a meeting at Bradford University. This is where I met a person who identified himself as Kandeepan Amirthalingam and he said that he was the one who killed Durayappah. The meeting was to procure funds to establish a separate state for Tamils in the North and East. There was mention of procuring weapons for the cause. I was only 22 years old and I came home during the Christmas of 1977 because I was homesick. One Sabaratnam from Batticaloa who was married to a Malaysian and Pakthasivam who was a graduate of Sheffield University asked me to bring Tamil printing set when I return. I was too naïve and asked my father whether he could get this for me. My father was shocked. He told me to change my telephone number and not to have any further correspondence. He also said that he did not send me to UK with his hard-earned money of just £21.00 which he saved up as a teacher in the Maldives from 1966 ( He retired as Inspector of Art for Northern and Eastern province in 1964 n the Language Issue) to give me a good education abroad to squander it on fighting dirty politics. I listened to my father and I severed connections with all these dissidents.

M.R. Narayanswamy, former AFP correspondent, cites VP as the one who killed Durayappah in his book, From Boys to Guerillas : Indian intervention in Sri Lanka.

Now, Alfred Durayappah did not endear himself to Tamils demanding a separate state since he freely entertained Mrs Sirimavo Bandaranaike and his ministers not to mention the late Anura Bandaranaike. He would arrange cultural events with the most attractive Bharathanatyam exponents to delight Sinhala politicians visiting Jaffna.

Former SP Sunderalingam who Rajasingham states wrote to him about the involvement of Kandeepan Amirthalingam may have a grain of truth if Mr Suntharalingam verifies to the media the letter is genuine. After all, Suntharalingam trained at Scotland Yard and was highly respected.

Who committed the first murder of a Tamil politician would remain a mystery until some strong evidence and proof surfaces.
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