1. Excerpts from Tarzie Vittachi: Emergency 1958
- The Story of the
Ceylon Race Riots,
Andre Deutsch, London 1958
2. Excerpts from the
The Fall and Rise of the Tamil Nation by V.Navaratnam,
published by the Tamilian Library, Montreal and Toronto - 1995
(purchase inquiries to P.O.Box 70, La Prairie, Quebec, J5R 3Y1, Canada)
3. On Genocide'58 -
Senator S.Nadesan Q.C. [Speech delivered during the course of the
debate on the State of Emergency in the Second Senate on June
"..The Tamils are the pawns in a political game. It does not matter to anybody how we
suffer, how we feel, so long as in this game one Sinhala party is the victor
and the other Sinhala party is the vanquished. That is all. That is why I ask you
not to make us pawns in your game.... Every
Tamil man, woman and child is willing to go...We do not want language
rights from you. Please have Sinhalese only. We
only want the right to live in our areas. We want the right to be
able to walk the streets without being molested. Those are the
rights we want. We will look after our language... The elementary duty of a Government is to afford
protection to its subjects, and the duty of the citizens is to be
loyal to that Government. The moment that Government fails to afford
that protection, it forfeits its right to that loyalty and affection.
This Government has forfeited that right. "
In the north and the east other voices which had been shouted down a year before began to be heard again. The conviction grew that Mr Bandaranaike had never intended to implement the
B-C Pact and that therefore the Federal Party had been bamboozled into calling off the massive satyagraha they had planned for August 1957.
Mr Bandaranaike's sudden volte face on April 9,
when he broke up the pact
which he himself had forged, set the pendulum of popularity swinging back in favour of the Federalists. They appeared once more in public as the aggrieved party. Mr Chelvanayakam was seen again as the martyred victim of the Government's duplicity....
It was in this atmosphere that the Vavuniya Convention was prepared. The Federal Party Chiefs, sensing the mood of the moment, went all out to make the convention a key event. Special arrangements were made in advance for the transport of delegates and supporters from every part of the island. Extra bogeys were attached to the train from Batticaloa...
On May 22, five hundred thugs and hooligans invaded the Polonnaruwa station, and smashed up the windows of the Batticaloa train in their frantic search for Convention-bound Tamils. The General Manager of Railways, Mr E. Black, said:
'According to the information we have-telegraph wires too have been cut-passengers entraining from Batticaloa were alarmed at threats that a gang was to attack them as they were under the impression that most of the passengers were going to the Federal Convention at Vavuniya. At Welikande, all but one of the passengers got off the train in fear. The train went on to Polonnaruwa with the one passenger. At midnight, as the train steamed in, the gang set about the train and the lone passenger. The train was stopped and left for Colombo at 7 a.m. this morning without a single passenger. The incident occurred at midnight. The passenger was sent to hospital by the Railway Officers there. A Railway Official was sent from Colombo today to hold an inquiry.'
The Observer reported this incident in more detail on May 24:
'On Thursday night, passengers were intimidated into getting off at Welikande as news had reached them that a gang of men were on the way to prevent them from making the trip as they felt that passengers must be prevented from getting to Vavuniya for the Federal Convention.
One passenger however continued the trip but was severely assaulted at Polonnaruwa station. A gang of men, alleged to have numbered nearly 5oo, got on the train at this station, smashed windows, went from carriage to carriage looking for passengers, damaging railway equipment as they did so.
They found one passenger who cowered in his seat, pleading with them to leave him alone as he did not belong to the community they were looking for.
"You are all the same", was the reply and they began assaulting him. He was later despatched to hospital.
All telegraph wires had been cut and there is still no communication between Polonnaruwa and Colombo. The train which should have arrived in Colombo that morning, left the station at 7 a.m. in the morning and arrived in Colombo late last evening. Meanwhile a Board of Inquiry has been despatched to Polonnaruwa by the General Manager.'
On the night of the 23rd at 9.15 p.m. the Batticaloa- Colombo train was derailed at the 215th mile on the Batticaloa-Eravur line. Two men, Police-Sergeant Appuhamy and railway porter Victor Fernando, were killed in the wreck. Many others were injured, some of them very seriously. Hoodlums, on the watch for Vavuniya-bound passengers, attacked the wrecked train. Fortunately there were only forty-seven people on that train. The wreckers had made a serious miscalculation. There were very few Tamils on board. And it was the Sinhalese who suffered most.
At 6 p.m. on May 24 a crowd-nearly a thousand strong- again invaded the premises of the Polonnaruwa railway station. They assaulted everybody in sight, including Sinhalese travellers and railway officials, and damaged a good deal of railway property.
Assistant Superintendent of Police Johnpillai who was travelling on leave to Valaichenai at the time, was beaten up at Giritale. Timely arrival of police patrols saved his life. Mr Johnpillai, who was in a critical condition, was rushed to hospital together with several others who had suffered at the hands of the goondas.
That night police sources reported that after an armed party had cleared the crowd out of the railway station things were reasonably quiet. But the Railway Department took the precaution of cancelling, immediately, all trains which were scheduled to run between Batticaloa and Colombo.
Polonnaruwa town was buzzing with people and carefully calculated rumours. They huddled en masse in the streets, exchanging stories of a threatened Tamil invasion from Trincomalee and from Batticaloa. Labourers from the Land Development Department, the Irrigation Department and from the Government farms who made up the Sinhala Hamudawa were constantly on the rampage, raping, looting and beating up Tamil labourers and public officers. The rumours that a Tamil army was marching to destroy Polonnaruwa gave the roughnecks a heroic stature. More veerayas (heroes) joined in to share the glory of saving the ancient Sinhalese capital from the Tamil hordes as their ancestors had done a thousand years before them.
A notable feature of these activities was that the Sinhalese colonists who had settled in the area for some years, and therefore had some stake in general orderliness, took no part in the rioting. The vast majority of the Hamudawa were imported Government labourers and the rest were recently arrived squatters who had no roots yet in the area.
Many of these labourers were marked 'present' on the check-rolls while they were busy marauding in the town area. It would have taken a brave supervising officer to refuse to mark their attendance. Some of these men, in fact, had their attendance marked simultaneously in two places-on the check roll at their work places and on the register of the remand jail after they were arrested.
There was some evidence of method in all this madness-it was crudely but effectively planned. The rioters had arranged signals-one peal of a temple bell to signify police, two to signify army and so on. They also had a simple system of hand signals to give their associates in the distance such information as which way a police patrol went. The element of planning was even more evident in the agent provocateur system which was widely used. Many thugs-some of them well-known criminals -had shaved their heads and assumed the yellow robes was bhikku.
A taxi driver known to the police as a bad hat of a stopped on the road. He had a shaven head. Under the cushions of the seat they found two soiled yellow robes. Police reports record that two 'monks' arrested for looting and arson were car-drivers by 'occupation'. These phoney priests went about whipping up race-hatred, spreading false stories and taking part in the lucrative side of this game-robbery and looting.
Whenever the police went after a looter with a shaven head he disappeared into a house and came back in the invulnerable robes of a monk. Monks were ordained in Polonnaruwa in those few days faster than ever before in the history of
Upasampada, the Buddhist ordination ceremony. They paid no attention to the sacrilege they were committing in the sacred robes that the Buddha Himself had worn. This menace became so bad that the police took a decision to arrest every man with a shaven head. They later discovered that a few innocent Muslims had fallen into their net.
All this went on while Polonnaruwa had no government nor even a Government Agent of its own. The Government Agent of Anuradhapura, Deryck Aluwihare, had been ordered to look after both provinces in perhaps the toughest assignment ever given to a young Civil Servant. With the assistance of a few civil administration officers, a small police force under
A.S.P. Bertram Weerasinghe and a small army unit of fifty men (and with no orders yet from Colombo), he was flying between Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, trying to maintain order. He had asked for reinforcements from Colombo but the Government seemed reluctant to take the situation in the North Central Province seriously.
Community life in Polonnaruwa was completely disorganized. The bazaar was seething with frenzied hatred. The first task of the administration, or what there was of it, was to provide a refuge for the Tamils whose lives were in danger- it was quite impossible to protect isolated people with the meagre means at their disposal. The Government Agent organized a refugee camp hard by the Kachcheri. Refugees streaming into the camp soon disorganized the rudimentary sanitary arrangements which had been provided.
Before very long the goondas turned their spite against the Tamil officials in the Government offices. Government Agent Aluwihare then set up a refugee camp for them in an isolated Irrigation Department bungalow, stationing five policemen there for their protection. The people, the Government Agent and the refugees knew deep within themselves how vulnerable they were. How could five policemen defend this house against hundreds of hoodlums demented by blood lust?
The situation of the refugees became worse when the merchants, under threat of reprisals from the goondas, refused point blank to sell foodstuffs to the officials looking after the refugees.
A quick decision was taken. Army personnel commandeered whatever provisions were needed under the Government Agent's receipt.
The thugs displayed a temerity which was quite unprecedented. They had complete assurance that the police would never dare to open fire. The Apey Aanduwa (The government is ours) bug had got deep into their veins. As the situation deteriorated, desperate measures were needed. The ringleaders of the racial revolt and people suspected of using their position and influence to stir up trouble were arrested. Among them were half a dozen chairmen of village committees and a few other parish pump politicians. The goondas had developed a slick technique of throwing dynamite. They carried it in the breast pockets of their shirts, with the fuse hanging out. As the 'enemy' approached they struck a match, lit the fuse, pulled out the stick of dynamite and flung it at point-blank range.
On May 24 and 25 murder stalked the streets in broad daylight. Fleeing
Tamils, and Sinhalese who were suspected of having given them sanctuary, had
their brains strewn about. A deaf mute scavenging labourer was assaulted to
death in the Hingurakgoda area-just to see what had made him tick. The goondas
burnt two men alive, one at Hingurakgoda, and the other at Minneriya.
On the night of May 25, one of the most heinous crimes in the history of Ceylon
was carried out. Almost simultaneously, on the Government farms at Polonnaruwa
and Hingurakgoda, the thugs struck remorselessly. The Tamil labourers in the
Polonnaruwa sugar-cane plantation fled when they saw the enemy approaching and
hid in the sugar-cane bushes. The goondas wasted no time. They set the sugar
cane alight and flushed out the Tamils. As they came out screaming, men, women
and children were cut down with home-made swords, grass-cutting knives and
katties, or pulped under heavy clubs.
At the Government farm at Hingurakgoda, too, the Tamils were slaughtered that
night. One woman in sheer terror embraced her two children and jumped into a
well. The rioters were enjoying themselves thoroughly. They ripped open the
belly of a woman eight months pregnant, and left her to bleed to death. First
estimates of the mass murders on that night were frightening: 150-200 was a
quick guess on the basis of forty families on an average of four each. This
estimate was later pruned down to around seventy, on the basis of bodies
recovered and the possibility that many Tamils had got away in time.
The hoodlums were now motorized. They roamed the district in trucks, smashing up
kiosks and houses and killing any Tamils who got in their way.
On the morning of May 26, the expected Emergency had not yet been proclaimed.
The situation in Polonnaruwa seemed beyond hope. Government Agent Aluwihare,
ASP. Weerasinghe and their colleagues had not had a wink of sleep or rest for
four days. They had been promised army reinforcements and Bren guns but there
were no signs of their coming.
The refugee camps were now overcrowded.
"On May 22nd, five hundred thugs and hooligans invaded the Polonnaruwa
station, and smashed up the windows of the Batticaloa train in their frantic
search for Convention-bound Tamils." The Observer reported this incident in
more detail on May 24th:
'On Thursday night, passengers were intimidated into getting off at Welikande as news
had reached them that a gang of men were on the way to prevent them from making the trip
as they felt that passengers must be prevented from getting to Vavuniya for the Federal
'A gang of men, alleged to have numbered nearly 500, got on the train at this station,
smashed-windows, went from carriage to carriage looking for passengers, damaging railway
equipment as they did so.'
On the night of the 23rd at 9.15 pm the Batticaloa Colombo train was derailed
at the '215th mile post on the Batticaloa -Eravur line… Hoodlums, on the watch
for Vavuniya bound passengers, attacked the wrecked train.
At 6.00 pm on May 24 a crowd -nearly a thousand strong - again invaded the
premises of the Polonnaruwa railway station…
Labourers from the Land Development Department, the Irrigation Department and
from the Government farms who made up the Sinhala Hamudawa (armed thugs) were
constantly on the rampage, raping, looting and beating up Tamil labourers and
public officers. The rumour that a Tamil army was marching to destroy Polonaruwa
gave the roughnecks a heroic stature. More veerayas (heroes) joined in to share
the glory of saving the ancient Sinhalese capital from the Tamil hordes as their
ancestors had done a thousand years before them. The vast majority of the
Hamudawa were imported Government labourers and the rest were recently arrived
squatters who had no roots yet in the area.
"If there had been any chance whatever at this stage of keeping Sinhalese tempers
under control it vanished completely following the Prime Minister's broadcast call to the
nation of May 26
By a strangely inexplicable perversion of logic, Mr Bandaranaike tried to explain
away a situation by substituting the effect for the cause. The relevant portion of the
"An unfortunate situation has arisen resulting in communal tension. Certain
incidents in, the. Batticaloa District where some people lost their lives, including Mr
D.A. Seneviratne, a former Mayor of Nuwara Eliya, have resulted in various acts of
violence and lawlessness in other areas-for example Polonnaruwa, Dambulla, Galawela,
Kuliyapitiya and even Colombo."
"The killing of Seneviratne on May 25 was thus officially declared to be the
cause of the uprising, although the communal riots had begun on May 22 with the attack on
the Polonnaruwa Station and the wrecking of the Batticalos-Colombo trail and several other
"No explanation was offered by the Prime Minister for singling out (the Sinhala
sounding) Seneviratne's name for particular mention from the scores of people who had lost
their lives during those critical days."
Colombo was on fire. The goondas burnt fifteen shops in the Pettah and a
row of kiosks in Mariakaday. Looting on a massive scale took place in Pettah, Maradana,
Wellawatte Ratmalana, Kurunegala, Panadura, Kalutara, Badulla, Galle, Matara and Weligama.
"The cry everywhere in the Sinhalese districts was 'avenge the murder of
Seneviratne. Even the many Sinhalese who had been appalled by the goonda attacks on
Tamils and Tamil owned kiosks, now began to feel that the Tamils had put themselves beyond
the pale. Across the country, this new mood of deep-seated racism surged. The Prime
Minister's peace call to the nation had turned into a war cry.
"Another vicious story, fabricated by a ghoul with a keen sense of melodrama,
careered through the country leaving a trail of arson and murder after it. A female
teacher from Panadura, the story went, who was teaching in a school in the Batticaloa
District, had been set upon by a gang of Tamil thugs. They had cut off her breasts and
killed her. Her body was being brought home to Panadura for cremation."
On the morning of May 27, the Panadura townsfolk whispered it around that the mutliated
body had been brought home. In the bazaar there was sudden pandemonium. The goondas
intensified their depredations. They ransacked Tamil-owned shops and beat up shopkeepers
A gang of goondas rushed into the Hindu temple, and attempted to set fire to it. In
their frenzy they were clumsy and failed to get the fire going. But they had a more
interesting idea. They pulled an officiating priest out of the Kovil and burnt him into a
The story of of the mutilation and murder of a Panadura teacher gained such currency
that the Ministry of Education despatched a senior Inspector of Schools to investigate.
His report: there was not an iota of truth in the story. He also discovered when he
checked through the records, that there was no female teacher from Panadura on the staff
of any school in the Batticaloa district.
"As panic spread, doors were closed in Sinhalese as well as Tamil homes. The
Tamils closed their doors to escape murder, rape and pillage. The Sinhalese closed their
doors to prevent Tamils running into their houses for shelter
"Yet another fiendish rumour had been circulated to inflame the Sinhalese. This
was the story of the 'Tar Baby'. In Batticaloa, it appeared, a Sinhala baby had been
snatched from its mother's arms and immersed in a barrel of boiling tar. The atrocities
increased with alarming rapidity.
"Among the hundreds of acts of arson, rape, pillage, murder and plain barbarity
some incidents may be recorded as examples of the kind of thuggery at work."
"In the Colombo area the number of atrocities swiftly piled up. The atmosphere was
thick with hate and fear. The thugs ran amok burning houses and shops, beating-up
pedestrians, holding-up vehicles and terrorizing the entire city and the suburbs."
"Another Tamil officer, working in the same Government department was unfortunate.
The thugs stormed into his house and assaulted, his wife and grown-up daughter in the
presence of his little child. His mind cracked under the shock. In the French liner Laos
which took the family away to safety in Jaffna he insisted on reciting large chunks of the
Bhagavad Gita to the captain of the ship. All his formal education - he is a Cambridge
scholar- had proved useless to him in the face of disaster. His broken mind reached out
for the only solace a man has when his own ingenuity and ability have proved futile."
"At Wellawatte junction, near the plantain kiosk, a pregnant woman and her
husband were set upon. They clubbed him and left him an the pavement, then they kicked,
the woman repeatedly as she hurried along at a grotesque sprint, carrying her swollen
"While the Prime Minister was telling the citizens' delegation that it was an
'exaggeration to call the situation an emergency' in every village from Kalawewa to
Nalanda, people's houses were in flames.
"When an eye witness reached Dambulla it was still intact. In a few minutes a
factory-new Ceylon Transport Board "Special' arrived, loaded with 'passengers'. They
disembarked and swiftly set about their business: in ten minutes, six houses were blazing.
And hell spread through the bazaar."
"The rioters continued their battle in the streets. Fresh fires broke out in
Wellawatte, Maradana and Rettah. Looting continued apace.
"Gangs of hoodlums in the Ratmalana area appeared to be working according to a
predetermined pattern. Thugs disguised as policemen went round Tamil houses warning the
residents that the police could no longer guarantee their safety and advising them to take
refuge in the police station. Nearly 10,000 people left their homes in terror.
Then the 'policemen' returned, some now in mufti, others still in uniform, to ransack
the empty houses. When they had left the scene, hard on their heels came the 'firing
squads'. They came in vehicles in twos and threes. A bottle of petrol was flung into the
house. A stick of dynamite was dispatched after it and another house was burning. Others
less efficiently equipped, zealously collected whatever furniture was, left behind and
used it as firewood to get the flames going.
..."News trickled out from Queens House that the Governor General had announced,
off the record at the press conference, that the riots had not been spontaneous. What he
said was: 'Gentlemen, if any of you have an idea that this was a spontaneous outburst
of communalism, you can disabuse your minds of it. This the work of a master mind who
has been at the back of people who have planned this carefully and knew exactly what they
were doing. It was a time bomb set about two years ago which has now exploded.'...
What are we left with (in 1958)? A nation in ruins, some grim lessons which we
cannot afford to forget and a momentous question: Have the Sinhalese and Tamils reached
the parting of ways?"
Excerpts from the
The Fall and Rise of the Tamil Nation by V.Navaratnam
[see also Book Note]
"...The Convention at Vavuniya concluded with the
Federal Party girding up its loins for a long-drawn struggle. That
struggle perforce was to be carried on in the Tamil country. The
experience of the Galle Face Green and the City
of Colombo was still fresh in the mind, and served as a warning that
however much non-violent that Party may try to keep its campaign the
Singhalese side had no respect or appreciation for any such restraint.
But notwithstanding all the peaceful intentions of the Party, the
rabidly nationalist forces in the SLFP Government took to pre-emptive
mob action immediately after the Vavuniya Convention ended.
It may be well to keep in mind again that the victory of
S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike in 1956 marked the beginning of a new era in
the political history of the country. It is the era of the common man….The
new era also saw the emergence of a new instrument of state power.
Ultra nationalist Members of Parliament and political leaders among the
Singhalese took to organizing mobs into private hoodlum armies of their
own. For all intents and purposes they have virtually become a
recognized institution for well over a quarter of a century since 1956.
They were and are being used to crush the Tamils, and they have been
used to destroy the trade union movement.
If the non-violent civil disobedience campaign
contemplated by the Trincomalee Resolution was rendered unnecessary by
the signing of the
Pact in 1957, the Vavuniya Resolution to go ahead with the campaign
in 1958 was thwarted by the Government unleashing mob violence and by
Security Act to proscribe the Federal Party and place its leaders
under preventive detention. It looked as though the intervening
period of some ten months had been utilized to mobilize the hoodlum army
and have them ready for action.
On the day following the Vavuniya Convention the goon
squads of the Singhalese hoodlum army took over the task of dealing with
the Tamils. They went on a rampage of senseless destruction and wanton
brutality. Starting first with the Pettah in Colombo, where most of the
Tamil business houses and shops were concentrated, they attacked,
smashed, looted, applied the torch and destroyed shops, houses,
buildings and vehicles. They beat up and thrashed every Tamil they could
lay their hands on. By nightfall the mob violence spread out to every
corner of the City of Colombo and its suburbs.
The next day I noticed that the local thugs had taken
over the situation and kept my house under observation, possibly for
loot. With the help of a Singhalese lawyer friend of mine I escaped with
the family to take shelter in a relative's home on the other side of the
Supreme Court Building abandoning my wrecked house. The relative's house
was in the Muslim quarter of Hulftsdorp and was therefore relatively
Dr. E. M. V Naganathan came to visit me in the evening
with Balasubramaniam, a young officer in Government service with strong
Federal Party sympathy. He insisted on going to my wrecked house to
retrieve some essential articles without heeding my -protests. An hour
later he returned with his clothes drenched in blood that was streaming
from head injuries. His car was smashed. A few hoodlums had attacked
with burning bricks soaked in petrol. He and Balasubramaniam had given
chase to the ruffians with hockey sticks in their hands, but the
ruffians disappeared into the maze of the District Court Buildings.
That night a mob of about 40 or 50 thugs attacked my
residence at Hulftsdorp in Colombo although it adjoined the Ministry of
Justice and Supreme Court Buildings and entrance had to be gained
through the Court gates. They hurled at least 25 Molotov's cocktails
(petrol bombs) calling out my name with every throw. The front part of
the house was smashed, and the furniture, doors and frames caught fire
and burned. My wife and I and a house- aid by the name of Muthusamya
brave man of the Thevar clan of Tamils, were the only adults in the
house. We gathered our little children, all 14 to 1 1/2 years of age,
and telling them to run wherever they could if anything happened to us,
we ourselves took our position by the door leading into the living room
ready to face the worst. The mob, however, made no attempt to enter the
house but passed on when their ammunition was exhausted.
I learned later from a mutual friend that the attack on
my house was planned and organized by a Member of Parliament at a
Buddhist Temple in Maradana. I guess he had instructed his men not to
cause bodily harm to the inmates while attacking my house. This friend,
himself a Singhalese Buddhist of the finest quality and refinement, had
made several attempts to warn me in advance but was unable to contact me
owing to my absence in Vavuniya.
I rushed Dr. Naganathan to Dr. Sulaiman's Private
Hospital at Grandpass and had him attended to. In that Hospital I saw
sights which God forbid any man to see. Victims of Singhalese mob
violence were writhing in agony, not just fighting to retain life. They
bore eloquent testimony to the type of horrible brutality and torture
which some human beings could inflict on their fellow human beings. Who
can help developing a,bitterness of feeling against those who could
inflict all this suffering for no reason except that the victims were
In three days the mob violence against the Tamils
engulfed all parts of the country and was not abated by any official
action. It was not until the Prime Minister was prevailed upon by the
Governor General Sir Oliver Goonetilleke, whom some prominent Tamil
citizens of Colombo had interviewed, that action was taken.
The Prime Minister S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike then invoked
the Public Security Act and declared a State of Emergency under which
the Army and Naval Forces were called out to restore law and order. An
island-wide curfew was clamped down, and eventually the situation was
brought under control by the firm and disciplined action of the then
security forces. By which time...more than 20,000 Tamils had become
homeless refugees - men, women, children and babes in arms, crowding in
two refugee camps in the City of Colombo. Their lives were in such
constant danger from the mobs that they were evacuated by ships to their
homeland in Trincomalee and Jaffna to save their lives.
A retired senior Police officer, who came to visit some
of us later in our detention camp, tearfully described some of the
things he saw on one of the refugee ships. In one place on the open deck
he saw a father trying to force a small piece of dry bread down the
throat of a month-old baby for want of any other nourishment. It was a
piece from a half-loaf which the father had managed to save in camp for
more than a week. Our visitor was so carried away by his anger against
the perpetrators of the violence which caused so much misery that he
said things which need not be repeated in print. But these are the
feelings which gave rise to the Tamil freedom fighters one generation
Curiously, under the peculiar brand of democracy
practised in Ceylon the perpetrators of the violence, those who
organized and incited the mobs, continued to be beyond the reach of the
long arm of the law, but the heavy hand of repression fell on the
representatives of the victims...
Under the Emergency Power which the Government armed
itself with, the Federal Party was proscribed, publication of the
Sutantiran newspaper was banned, and Party Headquarters and the
Sutantiran Press and Office closed and sealed, and the Party leaders
were all placed under arrest. The Members of Parliament belonging to the
Party were arrested when they were on their way home after leaving
Parliament. Chelvanayakam, Naganathan and V. A. Kandiah, whose
residences were in Colombo, were placed under house arrest in their own
homes. Police guards were posted at their houses to guard the places
round the clock. The leaders who resided in Mannar, Jaffna, Trincomalee
and Batticaloa were similarly placed under house arrest and their homes
guarded by the Police.
The Members of Parliament who were arrested on the road
on their way from Parliament and whose normal residences were not in
Colombo, and I whose residence in Colombo had been wrecked and made
uninhabitable, were all held in a special detention camp under heavy
Police and military guard. A Government bungalow at Stanmore Crescent
off Bullers Road in Colombo usually reserved as a residence for a
Supreme Court Judge was converted into a Detention Camp for the seven of
us, namely, C. Vanniasingham (M. P, for Kopay), N. R. Rajavarothiam (M.
P. for Trincomalee), V. N. Navaratnam (M. P for Chavakachcheri), C.
Rajadurai (First M. P. for Batticaloa),
A. Amirthalingam (M. P. for
Vaddukoddai), G. Nalliah (Senator) and me.... The house arrest and
detention lasted for three months, June, July and August, 1958. During
that time the voice of the Federal Party was not heard in Parliament."