Remembering those dreaded days.... | Daily News


 

Remembering those dreaded days....

Late Sagarika Gomes.
Late Sagarika Gomes.

(Commemorating the 31st Death Anniversary of the late journalist and singer Sagarika Gomes)

There was a dark era in Sri Lankan that male and female journalists, artists, scholars, heroic members of our armed forces, politicians among others gunned down for doing their official jobs! During that time reading news as a journalist or singing a song as a singer can be deadly and it was considered as crimes by a certain group of thugs who called themselves Deshapremi Janatha Vyaparaya (DJV).

The young generation of Sri Lanka can find out about this darkest era existed in Sri Lanka from 1987 to 1992 through the internet, ancient photographs, news reports etc. But the best sources of obtaining reliable details of this darkest era of Sri Lanka is patriotic adults above the age of 63 by now. They saw and heard exactly what took place in Sri Lanka from 1987 to 1992. They are the witnesses who still live to tell the story.

Sagarika Gomes was a Sri Lankan newscaster and artist. An aspiring artiest, she worked for Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation (SLRC), the state run television channel. During the 1987-1989 JVP insurrection, employees of the Rupavahini Corporation and the Independent Television Network (ITN) were ordered by the Deshapremi Janatha Vyaparaya (DJV) led by Saman Piyasiri Fernando to suspend news casting. Under threat, many of the newscasters refused to present the evening news. Deputy Minister of Information, A. J. Ranasinghe approached Sagarika Gomes to undertake presenting the evening news. She accepted and undertook the evening news. On September 13 1989, she was kidnapped from her home by an group of armed men. She was then taken to the beach, raped and killed.

Her killers did not stop there. The DJV killed 30 politicians, 23 academics, one clergy, two government officials, 89 civilians and 61service personnel, from July 1987 to January 1990. The DJV began preparing to topple the government. They began targeting opponents, carried out robberies to collect funds and began acquiring weapons. Usually collecting pistols and shotguns from owners who had gained gun licenses from the Government. Thereafter they planned to raid

armories of the Government, who had deployed its forces to the north and east of the country to counter the LTTE. On December 15,1986, the DJV abducted and murdered Daya Pathirana, leader of the Independent Students Union (ISU) of the Colombo University, which was a rival student union of the DJV. The DJV carried out a large number of murders.

The DJV killed more than seventy (70) members of parliament between July and November 1989. The DJV murdered probably thousands of people and crippled the country with violently-enforced general strikes for two years.

Individuals or organizations were warned or intimidated with messages dropped in the night to homes or posters or graffiti that appeared over night. Those that did not cooperate were brutally killed, with the repercussions extended to their family members. Executions were mostly carried out at night with armed groups coming to the homes of the victims and carrying them away to be tortured, executed and left as an example, while occasional bombings took place. In most cases the funerals of these victims were not allowed by the DJV, traditional final rights were not allowed and the caskets were to be carried below knee level as a mark of disrespect. With these techniques of fear and intimidation, the DJV was able to bring the country to a stand still. Acts of sabotage were common, with destruction of Government property and transformers were the common target. Killings took place in both urban and rural areas.

It is important to learn and remember about the darkest era of Sri Lanka which existed from 1987 to 1992 because all the elements connected to that era is somewhat active in politics. But no one will be able to distort the truth.


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