Untimely End of Prolific Lyricist and Broadcaster | Daily News
Premakeerthi De Alwis’ 33rd Death Anniversary:

Untimely End of Prolific Lyricist and Broadcaster


Samaraweera Mudalige Don Premakeerthi de Alwis (June 3, 1947 –July 31, 1989), commonly known as Premakeerthi de Alwis, was a highly popular and prominent Sri Lankan radio and television broadcaster and lyricist. He was assassinated during the 1987–1989 terror period which destroyed many such innocent valuable lives and billions worth National assets.

During the 1987–1989 terror period de Alwis received death threats allegedly from young Sinhala undergraduates who called themselves rebels. But as a socialist, he did not take them seriously. At around 8.30pm on July 31, 1989, armed men stormed into de Alwis’ home in Homagama. De Alwis tried to escape through the back door but more armed men were waiting in his back garden. His wife pleaded with the armed men and they assured her that they only wanted to question de Alwis. They dragged him outside and shot him dead. His bullet ridden body was later found 200 yards from his home. His remains were cremated at the Borella General Cemetery on August 7, 1989. De Alwis had two children, a daughter and a son.

His killers did not stop there. They killed 30 politicians, 23 academics, 1 member of the clergy, 2 Government officials, 89 civilians and 61 service personnel, from July 1987 to January 1990. They 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 licences from the Government. Thereafter, they planned to raid armouries of the Government, who had deployed its forces to the North and East of the country to counter the LTTE.

They carried out a large number of murders. They killed more than 70 Members of Parliament between July and November 1989.

They murdered probably thousands of people and crippled the country with violence and by forced enforced general strikes for two years. Individuals or organisations were warned or intimidated with messages dropped in the night to homes or posters or graffiti that appeared overnight. 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 them, 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, they were able to bring the country to stand still. Acts of sabotage were common, with destruction of Government property, electric transformers were a common target. In addition they destroyed a large number of State properties including buses, trains, state buildings etc. Killings took place in both urban and rural areas and the Government seemed powerless in the face of it.

A member of them was found guilty of the murder on December 17, 1992 by the High Court of Colombo. In July 2014 a part of Independence Square Mawatha, the road leading to the SLBC Headquarters in Colombo, was renamed Premakeerthi de Alwis Mawatha.

De Alwis was born on June 3, 1947 in Colombo, Ceylon. He was educated at Maradana Maligakande Maha Vidyalaya and Ananda College where he co-edited the school newspaper Dhamma Jayanthi and compiled the Anandaya magazine in 1965. In 1961 he unsuccessfully auditioned to be a singer on Radio Ceylon. However, his speaking skills enabled him to take part in several children’s radio programmes, including Lama Pitiya and Lama Mandapaya, presented by Karunaratne Abeysekera.

De Alwis’ father wanted him to join the Railway Department but he was attracted to radio broadcasting. De Alwis joined the Visithura magazine, part of the Davasa group, in 1966 as a feature writer. He started working for Radio Ceylon as a freelance announcer on December 17, 1967. He became a permanent announcer in June 1971 and was promoted to programme producer. He became a Grade Two announcer in 1974 and afterwards presented programmes such as Sonduru Sevana, Serisara Puvath Sangarawa and Shanida Sadaya on Radio Ceylon’s successor Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC). He later joined the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation, presenting programmes such as Anduna, Shanida Ayubowan and Sampath Rekha (National Lotteries Board).

De Alwis was a prolific lyricist, writing hundreds of songs. He wrote his first song, Hada Puda Asune Senehasa Bendune, in 1969 for Rupa Indumathi and Malkanthi Nandasiri. In the same year he wrote his first film song, for Lokuma Hinawa directed by K. A. W. Perera. He wrote songs for more than 150 films. He wrote songs for numerous singers including Mohideen Baig, Malini Bulathsinhala, Milton Mallawarachchi, J. A. Milton Perera, Mervyn Perera, Victor Ratnayake, Freddie Silva and Priya Suriyasena etc.

Popular songs written by de Alwis include Aaron Mama, Adaraneeya Neranjana, Adare Ran Bingun Nesu, Beri Bara Hindai Daruwan Dunne, Eda Re Guwan Thotupoledi, Eka Gini Koorai Mulu Gedarama Thibune, Kurullanta Gee Gayanna, Ma Ekkala Amanapawa Wee Dabara, Mannaram Piti Welle, Me Nagaraya, Mudu Parama Supiwithuru, Oba Dedunna Akasaye, Raththaran Menik Muthu Mokatada Ewa and Sanda Midulata Enawa.

(Resources from the Internet)

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