Police on trail of Tiger spy
Police probing last Monday’s LTTE suicide
attack that snatched the life of the Army’s Deputy Chief of
Staff, Major General Parami Kulatunga (posthumously made Lt. General)
and three others, are following leads to track down an LTTE intelligence
operative who had apparently been monitoring the movements of the
According to CCD detectives the LTTE spy from
Vavuniya had been assigned to monitor the times that Lt. General
Kulatunga left and returned to his quarters in the Panagoda Army
camp and that he had found employment close to the Panagoda camp
to be able to keep a close tab on his movements.
|Symbols of a courageous combat veteran stand
as final testimony to life and mission of Lt. Gen. Parami Kulatunga.
Pix by Gemunu Wellage, M.A. Pushpa Kumara and Dinuka Liyanawatte
In February this year the LTTE youth had found
employment in a bakery close to the Panagoda camp and he had taken
a room on rent which was also close to the Army camp. The youth
has gone missing since the day of the suicide attack.
The bakery owner on being questioned by the CCD
has reportedly said that the suspect youth used to to go to Vavuniya
often, saying that he had to go and see his sick mother. The owner
also said that he did not object as he mainly worked during the
Other workers at the bakery told CCD officers
that the youth used to hang around outside the bakery between 7
and 7.30 in the morning. According to CCD sources this was the usual
time that the Lt. General left his quarters.
The bakery owner had also said that visitors occasionally
came to see the youth and he claimed they were relatives.
Four days before the suicide attack, the suspect
youth had a frequent visitor. Investigations have revealed that
this associate too was an LTTE suspect wanted by the police.
|A salute from Lt. Gen. Parami’s alma
mater Trinity College
A bakery- worker has told investigators, that on
the night before Lt. General Kulatunga was killed, this LTTE suspect
had stayed over at the bakery. However, that same night the two
of them had disappeared. The suspect youth’s associate had
apparently come to the bakery on a black hero Honda bike which detectives
say looked similar to the one used in the suicide attack.
On that fateful day, Lt. General Kulatunga had
left around 7.20 in the morning in his silver Peugeot 406, that
he usually travelled in with his backup vehicle.As he travelled
along the Panagoda-Pannipitiya road he was trailed by the LTTE suicide
The bomber overtook the General’s back up
vehicle and rammed into his Peugeot at the Pannipitiya junction.
The car immediately burst into a ball of flame.
Parts of flesh of the suicide bomber was scattered all over.
|Schoolchildren paying their respects
The other two who were killed along with Lt. General
Kulatunga were Sergeant Gomez the driver and Budhika Madhuranga
who was travelling with him. A resident of Pannipitiya Siemon Sirisena
who was on his way to buy a newspaper was also killed.
The Officer In Charge of the Maharagama police,
Inspector N. Zoysa said that eight houses and six vehicles were
damaged in the blast.
According to police the Hero Honda motorbike believed
to have been used in the suicide attack, bore the number plate WP
MB 4089 and the bike had been registered under the name of Mohammed
Shafras has been working as a chartered accountant
at a British Company in Dammam, Saudi Arabia since May this year.
He had previously been the managing director of
a ticketing cum foreign employment company Air Model Travel Plan
(Pvt) Ltd in Sea Street, Pettah for about two years.
According to police, one week after Shafras left
for Dammam he had spoken to his wife and wanted her to sell his
|The final salute from the Army to a fallen
He had reportedly quoted Rs. 150,000 for the bike.
Meanwhile a colleague of Shafras, from his Sea Street days had introduced
a broker identified as Ravi Chandrakumar to Shafras’s father-in-law.
On June 11, Chandrakumar had brought a Tamil buyer
and a deal had been reached for Rs.145,000. However the deal didn’t
come through as Shafras’s farther in law had been out.
The buyer had then been asked to come the next
day (June 12) and the transaction tool place. Chandrakumar and the
buyer had both come to seal the deal. Shafras’s father-in
law- had told police that he did not know who the buyer was but
he could not ride the bike as he had brought a lorry to transport
the bike. Police have arrested Chandrakumar and another suspect.
More than 70 people have been questioned over the suicide attack.
Police are also probing the anonymous call that
the telephone operator at the National Hospital had received warning
them to keep the morgue ready for the body of an Army General.
Why did they treat him
Relatives and friends of Lt. General Parami
Kulatunga - a man who gave 35 years of his life to safeguard
his country, were forced to wait for more than seven hours
until his body was released last Monday.
"We had to stand outside the mortuary
for more than seven hours, without even being offered a chair
or a glass of water," lamented Priyamali Oduman, the
late officer's first cousin. Another close relation of the
General, who had also worked under him said, "not one
single politician or army official came there to even try
to speed up the process. His body was just kept there from
8.30 a.m. till 4 p.m. until the magistrate arrived."
Once the magistrate arrived, it only took her about 15 minutes
to release the body, she added.
"I'm not saying that we should have
been given any special treatment but, at least there should
have been the basic dignity that any human being is entitled
to, let alone a man who's done so much for his country and
had even lost his own life in the process. Attending to his
final arrangements and ensuring that everything ran smoothly
wasn't too much to ask for in return?" she added.
"There was no point giving him all
the honours at his funeral, if they couldn't protect him while
he was alive. The appearance of politicians at the funeral
was just a publicity gimmick," she charged.
"He was more than a brother to me -
he was always ready to help . When my son had an accident
at school, Parami immediately rushed the two of us to Colombo
to seek treatment," Mrs. Oduman said. He was always kind
hearted and never thought about himself. He was an honest
officer. Although he was probably the most decorated officer
after the Commander, he was so humble that we didn't even
know about most of his achievements till we heard them on
TV after his death," she said. He had also been quite
the "family man" she said "We as a family have
decided to look after the people who served him and the families
of soldiers who have been killed in the war, in his memory,"
All those who worked under him had loved
him. "When we went for his driver's funeral on Thursday,
his father told us that if the Lt. General had a son he would
have killed himself through grief," she said.
"I have no more tears left; all I'm
left with is a lot of anger at the way he died. Usually a
soldier dies an honourable death on the battle field fighting
for his country…what was this?" she questions.
There were about 100 people guarding his
body at the National Hospital, five truck loads and five jeep
loads of soldiers were on guard outside the funeral parlour
and about the same number escorted his body from the parlour
to his home in Kelaniya and yet another grand escort was given
at his funeral. However, when he was alive and in service,
he was only provided with one measly back up vehicle as security,
said another grief-stricken relative of Lt. General Parami
With determination to save their lives she
It was around 7.45 a.m. and another regular
Monday morning. Colombo was waking up to a busy week ahead
and it was peak rush-hour as people headed for work and children
hurried to get to school on time. Sapthala Ranasinghearachchi,
a busy mother of three, had just begun her daily routine.
Dropping her kids at school, she detoured from her usual route
to attend to a business matter and suddenly it turned out
to be a day she would never forget.
|Sapthala relating how she took the injured
in her vehicle. Pic by Dinuka Liyanawatte
She was heading towards Homagama and nearing
Pannipitya when she suddenly noticed a man covered with blood,
fallen by the side of the road, and driving a little ahead,
she saw a car ablaze, with tyres and other debris scattered
around. Thinking it was a motor-accident, she slowed down
and offered to take any injured persons to hospital. “I
have never before been a witness to even an accident, but
the first thought that crossed my mind was to save the lives
of whoever was injured,” said Ms. Ranasinghearachchi.
By this time, she had been told that a bomb had just exploded
and a high-ranking army officer had been its target.
Within minutes two army personnel along
with civilians carried three critically injured individuals
and placed them in the back of her van. “One army personnel
got into the passenger seat of my van and told me to get these
three people to the Army Hospital as soon as possible. He
leaned his entire upper body and weapon out of the vehicle
window and at times even got out of the vehicle to clear the
road for me.”
At moments like this, according to Ms. Ranasinghearachchi,
an amazing strength that you otherwise didn’t know you
possess, comes to the fore. “I switched on my hazard
lights and placed my left hand continuously on the horn, while
steering with my right. The determination to get these people
to hospital as fast as I could, and if possible save at least
one life, gave me the strength to do what I did. These were
the only thoughts that ran through my head and so I didn’t
feel any apprehension,” she said.
Inspite of her daring deed and determination
all three people in the vehicle had already succumbed to their
injuries. She was told that one of the victims was the Army’s
Deputy Chief of Staff, Parami Kulatunga posthumously made
Lt. General. “I found it hard to believe that these
people were dead. But for me, what was most impressive was
how dedicated these army personnel were to their General,
and though he was gone, the respect and adoration they had
for him made them want to give him the due respect he deserved,
even in death. This inspired me to get them to their destination
as fast as possible,” said Ms. Ranasinghearachchi. Eventually
given police escort, she got them to the National Hospital
in about 20 minutes .
When faced with a situation such as this,
the basic instinct of a human being would be to leave the
place as fast as possible, especially considering the present
security situation in the country. So what made her do the
exact opposite? “Death comes to all of us at some point
in our lives. When you are helping people, you can’t
think of the repercussions or risks involved,” she said.
A second year law student, Ms. Ranasinghearachchi
says her life has changed somewhat as a result of her actions
that day. Her family and friends have been very supportive
and at the end of the day, she is happy that she was able
to do something in return for the brave men who strive to
make this country a safer place to live in.
A tower of strength that
was taken from our midst too soon
Lt. Gen. Parami Kulatunga RSP USP USAWC
That fateful Monday, I was in Jaffna. The
sad news of your demise at the hands of a suicide bomber shocked
and saddened me. We have both remained conscious that facing
death in our battle against terrorism, to protect our fellow
countrymen and nation, was very much a part of our destiny.
Yet, you had to leave when so much remains undone.
Your help in these troubled times was a
great consolation and a tower of strength, that I have lost
both and a dear friend weighs heavy on my mind.
met Parami for the first time in 1971 as an Officer Cadet.
He was junior and had to fall in line for breakfast roll call
and other routine chores day in and day out. I remember the
many occasions when he took punishment meted out to him with
great humility. It was the same when he was praised for good
conduct. The cherubic smile you sported on both occasions
was to become a hallmark of your character.
As second lieutenants (young officers) we
were close friends. When he visited my home for the first
time my parents took such a liking to him that he became very
close to my parents, brothers and sisters and became a household
name. My mother used to ask me regularly about “Parami
He was a man with a large heart who loved
children. Dear Parami how much you loved my son and daughter.
All of us are unable to bear the pain of your demise. I have
a hard time at home consoling them.
Among the many trips abroad that we made
together the most memorable one was to Malaysia, in 2001.
We met the Jayasekeras my school buddies during this trip,
and they became so close to you in no time.
Doris Jayasekera the Malaysian wife of Senarath
Jayasekara was weeping on the phone when I was still in Jaffna,
a few minutes after the tragic incident. Our good friend Bernard
Seck rang me the same night and said he had advised him to
move out of Panagoda because of the distance and apparently
he had said with a smile, “ I am ok Bernard, I am ok.”
I know the reason. You kept your Panagoda
home spick and span. You enjoyed mowing your lawn. Shari and
I were there on your last birthday in October. What a wonderful
night it was, with your friends, relations and you did not
forget your batch mates. You did not fail to organise batch
get togethers every year, which we could not do.
Lately I loaded you up with so much work
and you accepted everything with a smile. Did you not tell
the Navy Chief of Staff on board the New Zealand vessel, “The
man,” pointing the finger at me, “when the Chief
of Staff rings me and says Para… that means work, work,
work and work.” How affectionately did you say those
words. You took over 60% of my workload willingly and with
Before I boarded the Air Force aircraft
to leave for Jaffna, I told the Ratmalana Base Commander for
you to deputise for me at the meeting at the Ministry of Defence,
and I was told when I returned by the Base Commandeer of the
SLAF that my message was the last call to you on your mobile
phone a few minutes before your demise.
You had a large heart and an affectionate
smile, which will be remembered by me forever. In laying down
your life for a most noble cause, Parami you touched the hearts
of all peace loving Sri Lankans. The enormous public anger
and sympathy bear testimony to your great sacrifice.
You will be remembered by the millions of
Sri Lankans for whose wellbeing you fought valiantly and fell
victim to a dastardly act of terrorism.
May you attain Nibbana.