Prison guard survives to tell it all
By Panduka Samarasekara
A bloody turf war between underworld goons claimed seven lives at Ehanamadala near the Kalutara Prison on the 27th of last month.
An underworld leader known as Samayang, four other suspects and two prison officials were killed in the bus attack. One prison guard, Prashan Buddhika, escaped death with serious injuries and later had his right leg amputated above the knee. At the time of the incident, he was escorting the prisoners unarmed.
Buddhika described the experience to Ceylon Today.
It was an ordinary working day for Buddhika. He woke up at 6:00 a.m. and reported for duty around 7:40 attired in uniform. He had been assigned to take the prisoners to the Kaduwela Court in the bus.
The list of names was read out and the prisoners were selected. They were five dangerous underworld goons. They were taken into the cell inside the bus and Buddhika also sat there. Four other officers sat in the rear seat. Another bus was providing back up security with four armed guards. Altogether, the two buses were manned by 11 prison officials.
The two buses moved about 200 metres away from the prison along Jawatta Road around 8:30 a.m. The road was wide with the usual traffic. Therefore, a double cab vehicle which appeared did not look like suspicious to the officials.
When the lead prison vehicle neared a bend, the double cab blocked the road. Almost instantly the doors of the double cab bust open and several persons wearing clothes similar to Police uniforms alighted from the cab with weapons in their hands. Buddhika thought they were Police officers.
But they pointed their guns to the prison bus and opened fire. Buddhika understood what was happening and crawled under the seat to save his life. He took three bullets through his right leg. He was unconscious after that.
"I was conscious back on a bed at the Nagoda Hospital. Several of my colleagues were around the bed. There were doctors and nurses too. My leg was unbearably painful. I remember I was shifted to an ambulance. I understood that the place was the Nagoda Hospital."
Buddhika was transferred to National Hospital, Colombo. He was in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for three days. Doctors tried hard to save his leg, but because the situation was worsening due to infection, they had to carry out an amputation.
Prabhath Buddhika was born on 1986 as the third child in a family of four. He was educated at Godapitiya Central College. He passed the Advanced Level Examination. He joined the Prison Department as a guard when he was 21 years old. After the three months of basic training, he was employed at the Kalutara Prison for the past nine years.
On the day of the incident, it was to be his last day at the Kalutara Prison since he had been transferred to the Mahara Jail.
Buddhika's father works at the Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB) and his mother is a housewife. His two elder brothers and the younger sister are married. Buddhika was unmarried and he looked after his parents. He did not think of marriage even though his family persuaded him to find a wife.
Eventually, Buddhika agreed to a proposed marriage and on 2nd March, he was to visit the would-be bride's house.
"I did not think of marriage. I thought of doing my job and looking after my parents. But my family wanted me to marry for the sake of my own future. That's why I consented to the proposed marriage. I was to see the would-be bride on March 2nd, but on that day, the doctors amputated my right leg," Buddhika said sighing.
"The authorities have promised to provide me with one of world's best artificial legs. The minister promised me a promotion due to my commitment to the service. The Prison Department looks after me very well. The hospital staff too, cares me as well. I will have to stay in hospital for about another month. I will report back to duty in uniform with the artificial leg," Buddhika said courageously.
"A man can be destroyed but not defeated," said Nobel Laureate Earnest Hemingway.
Dr. Anil Jasinghe, Director, National Hospital and Pushpa Ramyani, Nursing Officer.
(Pix by Akila Jayawardana)
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