Remembering a valiant son of Lanka | Daily News


 

Former Minister C.V. Gooneratne’s 20th death anniversary :

Remembering a valiant son of Lanka

A suicide bomber shattered Sri Lanka’s first-ever War Heroes Day, killing C.V. Gooneratne, a Cabinet Minister, and 20 others on a Wednesday in June 2000 during a fundraiser for the families of slain war heroes.

Industrial Development Minister C.V. Gooneratne was assassinated as he walked among supporters in Ratmalana. He was the first member of the then government to be assassinated by the LTTE.

It is important for every Sri Lankan to learn the dark history of Sri Lanka which ended on May 18, 2009, when our heroic armed forces led by then President and current Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and then Defence Secretary and current President Gotabaya Rajapaksa won the war against LTTE terrorism.

Minister Gooneratne and 20 others were killed during that LTTE suicide bomb attack. The Minister’s wife was among seven people seriously injured, while 53 others were admitted to the Colombo South Teaching Hospital (Kalubowila). Survivors told the media at that time that the bomber had got off a taxi and greeted the minister before detonating the bomb at an intersection. The suicide attack was similar to past attacks by the LTTE.

By that time, the LTTE had a large unit of suicide bombers who exploded themselves targeting VIPs, vehicles and camps belonging to the armed forces. Those suicide bomb attacks killed several innocent civilians who were close to their targets. The civilians were ordinary people such as office workers and schoolchildren.

It was a day that was specially meant to pay tribute to the war heroes battling to maintain the territorial integrity of the country. The War Heroes Day was declared to boost the morale of the heroic armed forces who were fighting the LTTE terrorists.

Before the bombing, all traffic in Colombo stopped and people were told to observe two minutes of silence by the government. Moments later, the suicide bomb went off, killing Minister Gooneratne and others.

The government imposed a curfew in that neighborhood and two adjacent suburbs. The Army’s rapid deployment force surrounded the area and searched for the suspects. Afterward, the bomber’s severed head and scattered limbs were found. The gender of the bomber could not be immediately determined. The disfigured head had close-cropped hair like a man, and there were trousers on the body. About half of the LTTE cardres were believed to be women, many recruited as child soldiers, and often women were used as suicide bombers. They were known to wear their hair short and sometimes dress like men.

Minister Gooneratne was educated at Royal College, Colombo, where he was captain of the rugby team. His father was Major L.V. Gooneratne, the first Mayor of the Dehiwala - Mount Lavinia Municipal Council.

C.V. Gooneratne entered politics as a member of the Dehiwala – Mount Lavinia Municipal Council in which he was Leader of the Opposition (Sri Lanka Freedom Party – SLFP). He was chosen as a Central Committee Member of the SLFP in early 1970s. C.V. Gooneratne entered Parliament at the General Election held in 1989.

Suicide bombers have assassinated thousands of innocent people belonging to all ethnicities and religions including the elderly, the sick, the disabled, pregnant women, and infants and several high-ranking politicians. The LTTE’s Black Tigers carried out the assassination of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi who was killed in 1991 and former President Ranasinghe Premadasa who was killed in 1993.

Suicide bombing was a popular tactic of the LTTE between 1980 and 2000 and the LTTE carried out 168 suicide attacks causing heavy damage to civilian, economic and military targets. The Sri Lankan economy and the Sri Lanka Army have been targeted on numerous occasions, including during a high-profile attack on Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) in 2001 that caused damage to several aircraft.

The LTTE was also responsible for a 1998 attack on the Buddhist shrine and UNESCO World Heritage site, the Sri Dalada Maligawa that killed eight devotees. The attack was symbolic in that Sri Dalada Maligawa is the holiest Buddhist shrine in Sri Lanka. Other Buddhist shrines have been attacked, notably Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi and the Sambuddhaloka Temple in Colombo.

The LTTE hacked to death a large number of civilians belonging to all ethnicities and religions who lived in the North and East. Border villages located adjoining the areas held by the LTTE were attacked. The people who lived in those villages left their homes at night and spent the night in thick jungles and treetops in order to protect their lives from the LTTE. But some such as elderly, the sick, the disabled, the infants, and pregnant mothers could not do it. The LTTE cardres came at night and hacked them to death.

They died painfully after suffering for hours without being able to get help. Bhikkus who lived in those border villages did not leave their temples because of the innocent people. They stayed back and faced the brutality of the LTTE while protecting people and priceless archeological sites which provided concrete proof of the real Sri Lankan history. The LTTE tried its best to fabricate a new Sri Lankan history in order to assist their claim of the lands, but the ancient archeological sites stood against that tactic.

The brutal terrorism of the LTTE was ended on May 18, 2009, by the heroic armed forces of mother Lanka after sacrificing over 26,000 precious young lives. Several war heroes became permanently disabled.

The blood shed by them to protect innocent Sri Lankans and the motherland was underestimated from 2015 to 2019. Some of them were imprisoned for saving the motherland. But in November 2019, the people of Sri Lanka did justice for those precious lives lost and shattered.


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