Friday, January 7, 2011

Oriravu (One Night) : PART 3 - by S. Sivasegaram




We met the Dean of the Faculty, Professor Thurairajah to seek his help to ensure that Balasooriyan was not ill treated at the Police Station. He had a good friend in the late Mr W Dahanayake, a senior technician with helpful friends in Kandy, including the police.

I think that Daha spoke to a senior police officer, and I doubt if Balasoorian was beaten up. He was taken to Colombo the next day, and if I recollect correctly what Balasooriyan told me on his return to Peradeniya several days later, he was slapped just once in Colombo during questioning, but they treated him fairly well, subsequently.

Given the fact that the UNP was the ruling party and given its domination of university life in Peradeniya, the UNP has much to answer for in the events of 11th evening. But I do not think that the SLFP or JVP activists did much to protect the Tamil students. It was much after the events that some students with JVP sympathies spoke to Tamil students to dissuade them from leaving the university.

Several students in their individual capacity risked the wrath of the viciously anti-Tamil mob. I remember Asanka Perera and Darshi de Sarem among a good number of others from the Engineering Faculty who in the days after 11th May campaigned actively against anti-Tamil threats and gave protection to Tamil students from other faculties as well. That was despite the Engineering Faculty itself having its fair share of Sinhala chauvinists and Tamil narrow nationalists.

The traditional left had no significant following among students and among academics those with strong left sympathies spoke up strongly against the attacks, as did some with UNP and SLFP sympathies.

I also remember that Thulsie Wickremasinghe, whose name fares prominently in the UTHR(J) documents, was found guilty of organising violence of 11th May by a university committee of inquiry but not long after was appointed Assistant Lecturer in the Faculty of Science by the late Professor George Dissanayake, very much to the surprise if not shock of several good Christians in the academic staff.


(Written by: S Sivasegaram)

MODERATOR'S NOTE: Please leave a comment below.


  1. Dear Prof Sisvsegaram, Thanks for the memories, I waas at Hilda hall in 83 at that time, as a first year Engineering students.

    it was sad, many of us got beaten up and but a few sinahlese studnets protected our room that night.

  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. Re: Thulsie Wickremasinghe's appointment,it is clearly of bad taste to mention late good Professor George Dissanayake the way you have done. He was such a revered gentleman, a great teacher. If Tulsie's appointment was anything, it should have been made not just by the good prof but the department. They must have weighed the merits before making the appointment.

  4. I guess the big question here is 'Did Prof. Dissanayake' practice what he preached? He was a good teacher, no doubt, but how about his morality and righteousness? I used to attend many bible study sessions which he partook in. He was a very senior faculty member, and he didn't factor an all-rounded education or character into the recruitment process. Hope he rests in peace!

  5. I was a sinhala student in the Hilda Obeysekara hall on that fatefull day.Those who were beaten up/threatened were my friends, I could not see them as feelingless, emotionless entities named "Tamils". I along with several of my batch mates discretely hid our friends. Subsequently we boycotted leactures until it was safe for our friends to return. For many months thereafter I slept with a packet of chilie powder near my bed as I was afraid that I could be targeted for taking a very vocal stand against the events of that night.


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