21st Commemoration of
STF war heroes :
'You give us courage, fortitude to safeguard country's unity
and territorial integrity'
The twenty-first Commemoration of the War Heroes of the Special Task
Force (STF) was held in Shri Maha Bodhiya, Anuradhapura, Sri Dalada
Maligawa, Kandy, Werahena Temple, Matara and STF Training Wing,
Katukurunda under the guidance of STF commandant Nimal Lewke.
The STF has started the practice of honouring fallen warriors who
have perished for the cause of their homeland. STF equally honours the
parents of these fighters annually.
The STF has been headed by seven eminent Commandants since its
inception. They are Senior DIG Bodhi Liayange, Senior DIG Zerney
Wijesuriya, Senior DIG Lionel Karunasena, Senior DIG Dharmasiri
Weerakoon, DIG Nimal Gunatilleke.
DIG Nimal Lewke who joined the Police Force in 1984 as an Inspector,
is marshalling this elite outfit as the seventh Commandant.
The STF has been maintaining close relationship with the parents and
relatives of fallen heros annually by sending gift packs to all the
families during Sinhala and Tamil New Year and scholarships are awarded
for the education of their children. "These services will be rendered
continuously as we treasure your contribution, treating you as
extra-ordinary human beings," DIG Nimal Lewke said.
"Our highest respects are paid to you for your supreme sacrifice".
According to this concept of present STF Commandant, the STF keeps on
close touch with the families of the STF war heroes. "Our fervent wish
is to see the end of this conflict and ensure a conducive environment to
live in Peace and harmony," Lewke stressed.
"Your invaluable sacrifices for unity and territorial integrity of
our land in the name of the next generation will be remembered and
cherished forever. The STF war heroes who have attained the martyrdom
are venerated today by the STF members. The names of these noblemen will
be written in the Lankan history in golden letters."
Let your blood mixed with the fertile soil of Degamadulla to bloom
thousands of flowers to fragrance our motherland.
Your dream of one and peaceful Sri Lanka will become a reality as
your patriotic deeds have given us courage and fortitude to march
towards the goal, you fought for. Although you have departed from us,
your loved ones you will forever remain in our hearts," the STF
"Your heroic deeds bring back the memories and the heroism of kings
and warriors repeatedly mentioned in the Lankan History in the likes of
Kings Pandukabaya, Parakkramabahu, Dutugemunu, Vijayabahu, Walagamba,
Dathusena and warriors such as Keppitipola Disawa, Gongalegoda Banda and
Your heroism reminds us of several battles won during the past.
Portuguese vanquished in Mulleriyawa, the resistance to the British in
Gannoruwa, similarly the STF withstood the LTTE onslaughts in
Thamankaduwa and Digamadulla in the Eastern region.
The STF war heroes drew out the LTTE engaging in several fierce
confrontations in areas like Pudikudirippu, Ambalanthurai, Thikkodai,
Kandikuddichiaru and Pullumallai repeating the history." The STF's
success story within a short period of existence is made up of those
sacrifices setting a shining example to others.
They have given their future and have departed from their loved ones
so that others could have a better tomorrow, the STF Commandant said at
the 21st Commemoration day. "They shall not grow old, As we that are
left to grow old, Age shall not weary them, Nor the years condemn, At
the going down of the sun, And in the morning, We will remember You."
The beginning of 1980s saw the emergence of new trends and dimensions
of subversive terror in the northern part of Sri Lanka, where the ugly
terrorism started gradually raising its head.
Tamil National Leadership, bureaucrats were targeted at whilst
inflicting a fear psychosis in the mindset of the public of North. Next
victim was the police ensuring the law and order in the Northern
peninsular. Assassinations, robberies, disruptive activities on the
Government infrastructure, developed into separatism by violent means.
The police being the premier law enforcing mechanism, was first to
face the onslaught of terror unleashed to achieve their goal. There were
attacks on police personnel whilst on duty and later on the police
station completely disrupting the normalcy in the North.
The new security challenges posed by the advent of separatist
terrorism in the North heightened the need of a special paramilitary arm
within the police service, prompted by the killing of policemen and
isolated police station becoming targets.
Immediate formation of a paramilitary arm, capable of meeting the
threat, was set up under the name of Special paramilitary Striking Force
(SSF). This outfit was deployed in the North exclusively to counter the
The lack of will, manpower and the material support made the SSF
fragile and denied its infrastructure for prolonged sustenance.
Under this scenario, the Special Task Force, was formed in March 01,
1983, headed by Superintendent of Police, Bodhi Liyanage who is a senior
Deputy Inspector General today. After the initial training at
Katunkurunda Police College the first intake were inducted to the army
combat training school Ampara, for counter revolutionary warfare.
The Defence Ministry which had been closely monitoring the progress
decided to streamline this unit by providing specialised training and
equipment required to function more effectively. Ravi Jayewardene
security advisor to the then president, J. R. Jayewardene, took an
active interest in realising its objectives and as a result the services
of Special Air Service (SAS), who were involved in training special
forces in Sultanate of Oman, were obtained to make the STF a
The SAS experts trained the STF troops at Katukurunda wing of the
Police College, after making the training school into a sophisticated
training complex. Later, the STF experts took over from the SAS in 1988.
Today the STF has a fully-fledged training wing, regarded as one of the
best in South East Asia. the late DIG Upali Sahabandu dedicated and
committed himself to elevate this training school into the present
Initially the STF was deployed in Jaffna peninsular to assist the
police. It is with great respect we commemorate the first martyrs of the
STF, who laid down their lives in combat to preserve the unity and
integrity of the motherland.
On 1st of September 1984, Police Constables 2539 Chandrapala, 4100
Ekanayake, 3928 Nanayakkara and Police Constable Driver 13089
Sumanasekera were killed at Thikkum in Jaffna, being the victims of a
land-mine explosion by the LTTE. Since 1st of September 1983 the STF
commemorates its martyrs annually on 1st of September.
The Defence Ministry relocated the STF from North to East in 1984.
There was scepticism among some quarters for this move. The STF
however, took up the challenge and relieved the SL Army who were moved
for operations in the North. The STF made a rapid progress in the East
in no time, establishing firm ground control and normalising civil
administration after facing tough confrontations from the enemy.
When the operational functions were given over to the IPKF in 1987,
the STF was totally dominating the ground in Batticoloa and Ampara
By this time, the STF firmly established itself as a professional
fighting unit, conversant well with irregular warfare.
The name of the STF became a safety valve for terror stricken
citizens in the East. The STF troops were regarded as battle-hardened,
fearless fighters with the capability of facing any form of internal
The STF always believed in providing security to the public, in a
holistic way, covering all ingredients of security, physical, economic,
social and mental well-being. High degree of discipline maintained
throughout made the character much more stronger enabling the STF to
command respect from both public as well as the enemy.