Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Oriravu (One Night) : PART 1 - by S. Sivasegaram

Written by: S Sivasegaram

Professor Sivasegarm writes about his involvement in the events that took place at University of Peradeniya on 11 May 1983.

Balasooriyan he refers to in this article was a first year Engineering student.

For a more detailed account of these events see:


It was a Wednesday, the day on which Rupavahini shows old Tamil movies late in the evening. That probably had something to do with the choice of that evening by some miscreants to attack Tamil students, since they gather in places with TV sets for the movie.

I was at my friend Dr Keerthisena’s house, two doors to the right my house, and somewhat engrossed in the movie ‘Oriravu’, which I saw more than thirty years ago. A student had called at my home and my mother probably directed him to Keerthi’s house or to Dr Kasinathan’s, just two doors to the left of mine.

I was told that I was wanted at Hilda Obeysekera Hall. I went home, and explained to my mother that I had to go to the other side of the river. I planned to walk to HO Hall, but Kasi, who I think was a Deputy Proctor or something similar to that at the time, offered to take me there on his motorcycle.

It was rather tense when we entered the campus and Kasi dropped me at Hilda Obeysekera Hall. He did not get involved at that stage as the request was for me to see Balasooriyan.

I met the Warden Dr KNO Dharmadasa who let me talk to Balasooriyan. There was pressure on KNO from an agitated group of students demanding that he handed over Balasooriyan to the police, and Balasooriyan was aware of it. Although the security personnel were there, KNO was not keen on handing over Balasooriyan to the police. But, given the situation, he was not in a position to set Balasooriyan free either.

(By S Sivasegaram)



  1. Add your comments here.

    -Moderator/E-Fac Memories

  2. This is about Oriravu (One Night) by Prof. S.Sivasegaram

    As one of the characters appearing in this
    narration, I am happy that my good friend Siva has penned this down and that
    it appears in the Web.It corrects the one sided story (which goes against all
    ethics of public documentation) publicised by the UTHR which appears
    prominently in the Web entries under my name.The UTHR should have been decent
    enough to contact me and got my story also if they wanted a fair and just
    documentation. I am happy at last that Siva, a total outsider to this drama
    enacted that night at Hilda Obeyesekere Hall, has put down what he saw and
    experienced on that night.Only a person who lived through those dismal times
    in those trying circumstances would know what one had to undergo facing an
    anonymous mob of some hundred "outsiders" ( people from other parts of the
    campus)Nobody , especially the bleeding hearts of the UTHR talks of those who
    were killed by mobs in those times. As far as I and my sub-wardens were
    concerned we have saved the life of Balsuriyan from a mob who would very well
    have beaten him to death.

    Prof. K.N.O.Dharmadasa
    Dept. of Sinhala
    University of Peradeniya
    Sri Lanka

  3. Prof Sivasekaram deserve a medal for bravery for saving the life of a hapless tamil from the mob .Whatever happened to Balasoorian now?

  4. The July 1983 Riots that Created a Collective Trauma

    Violence against Tamil Students at the Peradeniya University in 1983 May
    Nearly two months before the Black July Tamil students of the Peradeniya University were savagely assaulted by a group of Sinhalese students led by W.A.D.T. (Thulsie) Wickremasinghe and A. Ekanayake - 4th year science students from Arunachalam Hall and another group led by Dr. S. Gamage, a passed out dentist who was motivated by personal considerations. (Sri Lanka: The Arrogance of Power: Myths, Decadence and Murder - Rajan Hoole). The violence against the Tamil Students at the Peradeniya University could have had links with assaults and expulsion of the Sinhalese students from the Jaffna University by some radical Tamil students in early years. In 1976, the University Registrar Mr Wimal Sundara was beaten and chased out from the university by these radical groups. Although the university’s head, K Kailasapathy wanted to maintain the multiethnic character in the Jaffna University by 1978 most of the Sinhalese students of the Jaffna University were moved to other universities.


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