Robert takes on thugs at Homagama Meeting
By Bandula Gunaratne
Robert Gunawardena came from Boralugoda and was a leader of the Left who played an outstanding role in politics in this country. Anyone who associated him said that Comrade Robert was someone who never changed his word and someone who carried out his tasks without fail and with responsibility. He was also an honest and fearless politician. He heard about Marxism in Europe during 1920-30 from his elder brother Philip who lived in America. Robert felt that this was the best way to free the people of this country from colonial rule.
After Philip completed his studies and returned to the country in 1932, seven persons, namely Robert, Philip, N. M. Perera, Colvin R. De Silva, Leslie Gunawardena, B. J. Fernando and Vernon Gunasekera started meeting often at the Gunawardena residence.
At the upcoming elections, the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) then put forward the candidature of Philip to Avissawella, N. M. Perera to Ruwanwella and Leslie Gunawardena to Panadura, as well as S. A. Wickremasinghe to Morawaka.
However, they had to face a huge challenge. That is, to take N. M. who was a resident in Grandpass at the time, to Ruwanwella and to introduce him to the people, to enable him to contest with Forrester Ubeysekera and Adeline Molamure who were way ahead in wealth and power. This was an extremely difficult task.
The capitalists as well as the colonial authorities, who showed an aversion to the rising Left, were a great challenge to LSSP members. They were suppressed by those in power and had to face some intimidation initially. There were several such incidents, of which the one from Homagama stands out.
According to a decision made by the Central Committee of the LSSP on 29 February 1936, arrangements had been made to hold a meeting at 2.00 pm, in Homagama. The group who were engaged in pasting posters about the meeting heard through the grapevine that there were preparations to deploy thugs to sabotage the meeting.
A person named Galewedha, along with some well-know thugs from Hmagama and Pitipana and several others known as 'bus mudalalis' were deployed to disrupt the meeting.
Two days before the meeting, the internal committee of the party met and discussed how to face the thugs. They decided that since the thugs were known to them, they would go up to them and discuss matters peacefully.
Robert accepted the challenge to go and meet the thugs. That night, he, along with several people carried a stock of propaganda leaflets and went to meet the thugs.
Once Robert and his group met the thugs, they explained the objective of the meeting and convinced them not to disrupt the meeting. However, since this group of thugs were people who did anything for money, Robert later told his associates that he wondered if they would change.
The meeting was scheduled to be held at the Homagama Fair Grounds. Phillip, Colvin, Reggie Senanayake and Harold Peiris had arrived for the meeting that evening. There were about 200 - 300 people. Philip commenced the meeting.
At that moment, there was a sound of a perahera, with drums and horns, approaching the meeting. Many got excited, since there were rumours that a group of oppositionists were coming to sabotage the meeting. The group of masked thugs who were intoxicated and carrying weapons arrived in front of the meeting and Robert went to meet them. Assisting him were Poré Steven, Meepe Abraham, Pitipana Kornelis, Payagala Francis and Karawelpita Saundhris.
Robert said, "We are the ones who are holding meeting. Do not obstruct it." At this point, the drummers and trumpeters had started playing their instruments even louder.
Robert lost his patience at this and had taken his walking-stick and began flaying it this way and that. The drums broke into two. The thugs who were attacked by the walking-stick left their drums and fled. It was the Chief Prelate of the Hakbellawa Temple who had given him this walking-stick which had an iron pole inside its wooden casing.
Some people suffered from head
injuries. Others who had come in
procession with the thugs began running helter-skelter.
Homagama Siyappu who had promised Robert, the day before that they would not cause any problems at the meeting, came up behind Robert with a dagger and attempted to stab him, Meepe Abraham jumped in and felled Siyappu with a blow that threw him several feet away.
Some who ran away, under cover of nearby houses began pelting stones. Robert too was struck by a stone. Pitipana Kornelis blocked many stones aimed at Robert, with his body.
When one group of thugs began to retreat, another gang arrived from the direction of the Galawila Road in a bus. That was a group of people loyal to Semeneris Bus Mudalalai.
Several tried to attack Phillip, but Robert jumped over a barbed wire fence and ran towards the scene. While the thug named Pitipana Loola aimed a dagger at Philip, Saundhris who arrived at the place before Robert, hit Loola so hard that he ended up beneath a table. After that moment, all the thugs disappeared.
Finally, a police team led by Senanayake, arrived at the scene and made arrangements to send the injured to hospital. After a while, the meeting commenced again. Gradually the entire area filled up. The meeting was held until about 8.00 at night.
- City Coroner complains to Fort Magistrate Call to probe death of Bellanwila Thera Monk was moved from CSGTH against medical advice
- Will Transitional Justice wither? Int’l community in quandary over LG polls results
- Govt now trying to postpone PC polls
- President has not consulted me yet – AG
- Govt brought in 19A to block Rajapaksas We also can change 19A – Basil
- November 2012 Welikada Prison Massacre Second eyewitness ready to come forward
- President pressed to find suitable PM Political crisis continues
- South China Sea Unmanned vessels and future operations
- Malaysia’s 2018 General Election Alternative Scenarios?
- Back to the chessboard?
- Buddhika goes to CIABOC Alleges Rs 2 B fraud in Army food tender
- Sleeping man run over by container
- SLPP felicitates winners
- Money laundering case Namal allowed foreign travel
- Kuwait MP says expats are ‘opportunistic bacteria’ Al-Hashim blames traffic congestion and pollution on foreigners
- SL’s 70th Independence celebrated in S Korea
- Prez summons Ministry Secys All official duties to continue
- Rosy writes to Mahinda Deshapriya Wants 25% female quota implemented urgently
- Aloysius and Palisena denied bail Notice issued to Mahendran to appear before CID by 8th March
- Women NGOs write to EC Chair We expected ‘confusion’ over 25% rep Goonasekera
- One killed in shooting Assailant assaulted to death
- Bid to apprehend Weeratunga Marapana to leave for UAE Fugitive ex-envoy prevented from leaving
- Appointment of new PM Prez to consult AG and senior PCs
- Govt to continue as per Constitution – Ranil
- Inter-Korean collaboration Money, lies, and pleasure squads
- Strategic plans worked well – Hathurusinghe
- Jayamanna scores double ton
- Royal win Frank Gunasekara Shield
- Nalanda run out of time
- 16 teams qualify to pre quarters
- Pre-quarter finalists found
- Sirimavo Bandaranaike, Piliyandala Central emerge champions
- CR in dashing form crush CH
- Election commission rejects votes of athletes’ commission
- So easy for Kandy SC
- Tamim returns to boost hosts
- Royal win Inaugural ‘Alles-Gunasekara’ Encounter
- Didn’t take Bangladesh for granted - Gunathilaka
- Kandy SC should have it easy
- Jayamanna scores unbeaten ton
- Navy SC fight hard to win
- Bhanuka and Lahiru in unbroken stand of 251
- Lionel, Nilani eye title at Cross Country
- Army SC can topple Havies
- New Kids on Big Match stage
- Sri Lanka has already missed ‘three buses’ in digitalization: Dialog CEO
- CBSL to raise Rs 30B to pay maturing debt
- ADB lends $ 75M to strengthen Sri Lanka SMEs
- Tea Board Chairman submits resignation
- Singapore FTA no game changer: Verite
- Solid Waste Management - global issue
- NDB partners with United Motors for vehicle leasing
- HNB recognized at IFM Awards 2017 for microfinance innovation
- zMessenger nominated at Festival of Media APAC Awards 2018
- Sunquick consumers drink and win again
- Grabbing a bigger slice of the FDI pie
- ABANS LAUNCHES BEATS HEADPHONES IN SL
- SLT opens contact centre in Bandarawela
- William Angliss Institute graduates felicitated
- ‘If Chrysotile fibre is harmful, Government must prove it’ Arecanut is also in WHO banned list, but still legal in SL: Fibre Cement Product Manufacturers’ Association
- Housing a priority in Govt’s development effort
- Singer posts over Rs 1B sales of Huawei smartphones monthly
- Nippon Paint holds AYDA 2017 for young designers
- Mobitel named fastest mobile network in Sri Lanka by Ookla
- TEA PRICES, ONLY ONE METRIC OF RPC SUCCESSes
- INTERPOL REFUSES TO DELIVER SUMMONS TO MAHENDRAN ARREST WARRANT TO BE SOUGHT AFTER MARCH 8 IF…
- REVISITING SRI LANKA’S FOREIGN POLICY
- Howlers that wreck language
- Pursuing Peace The UN’s lack of accountability
- Oxfam Scandal Funding fears may drive charities to hide offences
- Prof Bellanwila Wimalarathana Thera’s demise Call for probe as questions remain in limbo
- Colombo’s construction frenzy Lack of policies and awareness a major issue
- I take full responsibility for the results delay Deshapriya speaks out
- Concretes & Abstracts Visionary sans apostles
- UNP’s future at stake Defeat at the recent LG polls renews calls for reform
- Basil says…Await the return of ‘Spiritual Leader’ MR
- Rajapaksas’ Presidential hopeful is Gota
- Sins of the past Govt cannot be forgotten- Anura Kumara
- Law and order is quite weak
- I will continue Gota’s legacy - Milinda Rajapaksha
- Accomplice to the crime Our own indifference
- UK flower farm suspected of enslaving migrants
- Costly Renovation
- REV. PROF BELLANWILA WIMALARATANA THERA
- Why Masses Brought Victory to Past President
- White Sapphire absorbs the power of Venus
- Partial eclipse that occurred on Feb 16
- Effects of Sun in Aquarius
- Some recent impressions
- Bandula Nanayakkarawasam: From Galle to the world
- Pauline Kael: The critic wore cowboy boots
- Pauline Kael: The critic wore cow boy boots
- “Hail, Caesar!” Silliness as a virtue
- Notes on history: The thinkers and the doers
- Reflections on a nation of non-readers
- The Disaster Artist: The (un)making of a movie
- Kite Surfing Lanka Kalpitiya An experience of a lifetime
- Ella and mini Adam’s Peak
- A cave of history -Ravana Cave
- Never say never to anything!
- What’s In My Bag I want to carry my dog Ricky Ruchira
- Indian Elegance Raaya Clothing & Accessories
- Election promises that took people for a ride
- 7 killed in Florida school shooting by former student: sheriff
- Man with moustache who went to Rajarata a thousand times in a ramshackle Jeep