by Hemantha Randunu
“Let’s get out of here Muthumali, Danny Mahattaya is going out of control; his henchmen won’t leave us alone!” Madush told his wife Muthumali, foreseeing the shape of things to come. Yet his wife pooh-poohed his demand.
In 2002, the Chairman of the Southern Provincial Development Authority was Danny Hiththetiyage, a well known politician in the South. Hiththetiyage had begun to stealthily take over several lands belonging to Madush’s father. Due to this land issue, a rift had developed between Madush’s and Danny Hittatiyage’s families. Yet not in his wildest dreams would Madush have thought that this would change his life forever.
Samarasinghe Arachchige Madush Lakshitha was born on February 24, 1979, in Gathara outside Kamburupitiya. He was educated at Kamburupitiya Maha Vidyalaya and Karandeniya National School. Madush had a sister and a brother. His father, Samarasinghe Arachchige Lakshman, was an engraver, a peaceful man from Gathara. His mother was Malani Samarasinghe, an active member of the JVP.
By 1989, Madush had turned 10. He was very close to his mother and used to follow her wherever she went. During the 88/89 insurgency, government security forces were hard line in their policy of bumping off JVP members. Madush’s mother was killed after returning home from a JVP rally. Her untimely death traumatized Madush. His father had little interest in his children. He just let them be.
Madush’s aunt was the saving grace for him and his siblings. She and his grandmother took the responsibility of raising them. During that time Madush and his family had to face various hardships despite which he passed the GCE Ordinary Level Examination. But due to persistent economic issues, he had to drop out of school and face the challenges of life quite early on.
Cupid then made its move on Madush. He went through a whirlwind romance with a woman called Dayani Muthumali but they did not receive the blessings of their elders. Muthumali’s parents did not want to give their daughter in marriage to Madush who was loafing around Kamburupitiya without a proper education or job. All he wanted at the time was to marry the woman he loved and to do this he knew he would have to find a job, and establish himself as a suitable spouse.
Madush tried his luck as a tractor driver and then drove a three-wheeler and was an employee at Nihal Motors; later he was a truck driver under a businessman called Amarasinghe in Ratmalana. He returned to his village as a private bus driver. He was not satisfied with any of the jobs he had. He wanted to earn a lot of money, but with his lack of qualifications he found this hard to achieve. Nevertheless, he continued to woo Muthumali.
Madush married her in 1998 when he turned 19. The couple returned to his home in Kamburupitiya. They both got minor jobs at Matara Hospital. Around this time the rift between his and Danny Hiththetiyage’s families surfaced and widened.
With all this drama going on, Madush became a father in 2002. His first son was born with health problems. There were other problems too. Muthumali began to encounter several advances from a relative of Hiththetiyage.
That enraged Madush. He vowed to teach the Hiththetiyages a lesson. After the birth of their son the couple lived in Makandura at Muthumali’s parents’ house and in Kamburupitiya in turn.
“If I do not teach them a lesson, my wife and child will not be able to live in peace,” he said to himself. So he decided to teach a lesson to Upananda, a brother-in-law of Danny Hiththetiyage, who tended to harass Madush’s family frequently. In 2002, Madush shot Upananda at Kamburupitiya. This murder turned out to be his first crime. After the shooting, Madush parted from his wife and child and fled.
He knew an underworld criminal called Unathurupe Shantha. Having fled Kamburupitiya, he met Shantha and revealed everything that had happened. Shantha took Madush under his wing and recruited him to a life of crime. Money and the promise of riches was what Madush was after, and as events later transpired, he was to have both in life.
Along with Shantha and his gang, he started robbing financial institutions and leasing companies across the country. They were soon loaded with cash. More than ten leasing companies and financial institutions in Negombo, Kuliyapitiya and Galle were raided and robbed of tens of millions of rupees by their gang.
In 2006, the OIC of the Peliyagoda Crimes Division was Priyantha Jayakody, currently the Deputy Inspector General of Police in charge of the Crime and Organized Crime Division. Jayakody and his officers had been conducting operations for months to nab the gang. Eventually, this gang, including Madush and Unathurupe Shantha, were captured while hiding in a cave in Wariyapola. At the time Madush was merely known as “Madush of Kamburupitiya.”
While being questioned by OIC Jayakody, Madush revealed his bitterness towards his enemy: “Sir, it was Danny Hiththatige who dragged me into this life. I will send him to the afterlife someday. I can’t sleep until he’s gone.”
Later Jayakody took the initiative to inform Danny Hiththetiyage about the impending threat which went unnoticed and worse, unheeded. The gang, including Madush, were meanwhile jailed. Madush, in the Negombo prison began plotting to murder the Chairman of the Southern Province Development Authority.
At the Negombo prison Madush befriended Nissanka, a deserter from the Army Commando Unit. Madush realized at the time that Nissanka, imprisoned for several crimes, was the right person to use to kill Danny Hiththetiyage. Madush presented his plan to Nissanka, a talented marksman, and took steps to get him bailed out and set his plan in motion. On June 11, 2006, Nissanka and another underworld gang member shot and killed Danny Hiththetiyage in front of his house in Makandura.
The assassination of Danny Hiththetiyage shook not only the Southern Province, but also the whole country. The murder was initially suspected to be part of a political conspiracy, but the truth of the matter was later revealed.
Madush paid Nissanka Rs. 350,000 for his services. After this incident Madush acquired notoriety throughout the underworld. During his time in prison he established various connections among criminals, among them the LTTE member, Ice Manju who was plotting to assassinate then President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Ice Manju wanted help from Madush to carry out this plan offering him five million to do the job. But for some reason the plan did not proceed. Makandure Madush, who was held in the Negombo Prison for five years, was released on bail in 2011.
At that time the plot to assassinate Mahinda Rajapaksa by the LTTE was being investigated by the Terrorist Investigation Division. The TID revealed that after his release from prison, Madush conspired with the LTTE and he was arrested again by them and held for a year and a half.
He had to be released after the authorities failed to prove the conspiracies surrounding the assassination attempt on the president. His association thereafter with Maligawatte Kanjipani Imran and Kotahena Tipdon, who had become the masterminds of the Colombo heroin network, changed Madush’s life.
“There is no point in breaking into houses and robbing them and carrying out contract murders to earn a living. You have to do something big,” they told Madush who was recruited as their partner in the drug trade. At that time there are where several underworld gangs after him together with the military and the forces; so he quickly moved to get out of Sri Lanka and, with the help of Kanjipani Imran and Tipdon, established himself in Dubai.
He managed the Sri Lankan underworld from Dubai with the help of his henchmen here. After a while Kanjipani Imran also came to Dubai and the duo began to spread their wings over the heroin trade, not only in Sri Lanka but also in foreign countries like Maldives, Malaysia, and Thailand. Although he took a second wife, Madush took care of his legal wife and child by providing financial assistance. He continued his underworld activities with great precision all the way from Dubai.
It was Madush who drew out and executed the plan to assassinate Samayan by attacking the prison bus at Ethanamadala, Kalutara. The attack took place exactly as Madush had planned. Following the attack, Madush arranged for Angoda Lokka and Ladiya to be brought to India by sea from Kalpitiya. With the help of the members of his international heroin network, Madush was able to bring Angoda Lokka and Ladiya to Dubai.
After Madush’s friend Riskhan was killed by the Kaduwela underworld, he took every possible step to find the killer: Kos Malli. He kidnapped him and proceeded to cut his head off and to have it delivered to the Court Complex in Colombo, displaying his cruelty as well as his power. The extravagant funeral of Madush’s father showed the extent of the man’s power and wealth as well.
Madush’s mission of ambushing the narcotics officer in Piliyandala using a spy inside the Narcotics Department showcased his knowledge and proved why he was known as the Godfather of the Sri Lankan Underworld. His elaborate plan to loot a diamond worth seven million rupees was the biggest such case in the history of the country.
Meanwhile in Dubai, Morrill, one of Madush’s rivals, received information that Madush’s small daughter’s birthday party was being held on a grand scale at a hotel in Dubai. Morrill was in close contact with several senior Dubai police officers at the time. He also knew that drugs including cocaine would be brought to this party. He gave an anonymous tip to the Dubai Police and Madush and his henchmen were captured. After several months, the Dubai government finally extradited the Godfather of Sri Lanka home, in deference to requests made by the Sri Lankan Police.
Under the supervision of Senior DIG in charge of the Western Province Deshabandu Tennakoon, Director of the Colombo Crimes Division SSP G. J. Nandana, ASP Neville Silva, and other officers, Madush was taken to the Colombo Crimes Division and two days later, on information provided by him, heroin worth over Rs. 100 million was uncovered in Kotikawatta. Madush was held by the CID for a year and a half.
The police continued investigations to seize more stocks of heroin. On information provided by Madush, he was taken to the Lakshitha Sevana housing scheme in Maligawatta allegedly to ferret out another stock of heroin. But this time Madush found not the drug stash but death. The Godfather of the Sri Lankan underworld died by a bullet through his head, at last reaping what he had sowed.
(Tranlated by Uditha Devapriya)
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Islamophobia and the threat to democratic development
There’s an ill more dangerous and pervasive than the Coronavirus that’s currently sweeping Sri Lanka. That is the fear to express one’s convictions. Across the public sector of the country in particular many persons holding high office are stringently regulating and controlling the voices of their consciences and this bodes ill for all and the country.
The corrupting impact of fear was discussed in this column a couple of weeks ago when dealing with the military coup in Myanmar. It stands to the enduring credit of ousted Myanmarese Head of Government Aung San Suu Kyi that she, perhaps for the first time in the history of modern political thought, singled out fear, and not power, as the principal cause of corruption within the individual; powerful or otherwise.
To be sure, power corrupts but the corrupting impact of fear is graver and more devastating. For instance, the fear in a person holding ministerial office or in a senior public sector official, that he would lose position and power as a result of speaking out his convictions and sincere beliefs on matters of the first importance, would lead to a country’s ills going unaddressed and uncorrected.
Besides, the individual concerned would be devaluing himself in the eyes of all irrevocably and revealing himself to be a person who would be willing to compromise his moral integrity for petty worldly gain or a ‘mess of pottage’. This happens all the while in Lankan public life. Some of those who have wielded and are wielding immense power in Sri Lanka leave very much to be desired from these standards.
It could be said that fear has prevented Sri Lanka from growing in every vital respect over the decades and has earned for itself the notoriety of being a directionless country.
All these ills and more are contained in the current controversy in Sri Lanka over the disposal of the bodies of Covid victims, for example. The Sri Lankan polity has no choice but to abide by scientific advice on this question. Since authorities of the standing of even the WHO have declared that the burial of the bodies of those dying of Covid could not prove to be injurious to the wider public, the Sri Lankan health authorities could go ahead and sanction the burying of the bodies concerned. What’s preventing the local authorities from taking this course since they claim to be on the side of science? Who or what are they fearing? This is the issue that’s crying out to be probed and answered.
Considering the need for absolute truthfulness and honesty on the part of all relevant persons and quarters in matters such as these, the latter have no choice but to resign from their positions if they are prevented from following the dictates of their consciences. If they are firmly convinced that burials could bring no harm, they are obliged to take up the position that burials should be allowed.
If any ‘higher authority’ is preventing them from allowing burials, our ministers and officials are conscience-bound to renounce their positions in protest, rather than behave compromisingly and engage in ‘double think’ and ‘double talk’. By adopting the latter course they are helping none but keeping the country in a state of chronic uncertainty, which is a handy recipe for social instabiliy and division.
In the Sri Lankan context, the failure on the part of the quarters that matter to follow scientific advice on the burials question could result in the aggravation of Islamophobia, or hatred of the practitioners of Islam, in the country. Sri Lanka could do without this latter phobia and hatred on account of its implications for national stability and development. The 30 year war against separatist forces was all about the prevention by military means of ‘nation-breaking’. The disastrous results for Sri Lanka from this war are continuing to weigh it down and are part of the international offensive against Sri Lanka in the UNHCR.
However, Islamophobia is an almost world wide phenomenon. It was greatly strengthened during Donald Trump’s presidential tenure in the US. While in office Trump resorted to the divisive ruling strategy of quite a few populist authoritarian rulers of the South. Essentially, the manoeuvre is to divide and rule by pandering to the racial prejudices of majority communities.
It has happened continually in Sri Lanka. In the initial post-independence years and for several decades after, it was a case of some populist politicians of the South whipping-up anti-Tamil sentiments. Some Tamil politicians did likewise in respect of the majority community. No doubt, both such quarters have done Sri Lanka immeasurable harm. By failing to follow scientific advice on the burial question and by not doing what is right, Sri Lanka’s current authorities are opening themselves to the charge that they are pandering to religious extremists among the majority community.
The murderous, destructive course of action adopted by some extremist sections among Muslim communities world wide, including of course Sri Lanka, has not earned the condemnation it deserves from moderate Muslims who make-up the preponderant majority in the Muslim community. It is up to moderate opinion in the latter collectivity to come out more strongly and persuasively against religious extremists in their midst. It will prove to have a cementing and unifying impact among communities.
It is not sufficiently appreciated by governments in the global South in particular that by voicing for religious and racial unity and by working consistently towards it, they would be strengthening democratic development, which is an essential condition for a country’s growth in all senses.
A ‘divided house’ is doomed to fall; this is the lesson of history. ‘National security’ cannot be had without human security and peaceful living among communities is central to the latter. There cannot be any ‘double talk’ or ‘politically correct’ opinions on this question. Truth and falsehood are the only valid categories of thought and speech.
Those in authority everywhere claiming to be democratic need to adopt a scientific outlook on this issue as well. Studies conducted on plural societies in South Asia, for example, reveal that the promotion of friendly, cordial ties among communities invariably brings about healing among estranged groups and produces social peace. This is the truth that is waiting to be acted upon.
Pakistan’s love of Sri Lanka
By Sanjeewa Jayaweera
It was on 3rd January 1972 that our family arrived in Karachi from Moscow. Our departure from Moscow had been delayed for a few weeks due to the military confrontation between Pakistan and India. It ended on 16th December 1971. After that, international flights were not permitted for some time.
The contrast between Moscow and Karachi was unbelievable. First and foremost, Moscow’s temperature was near minus 40 degrees centigrade, while in Karachi, it was sunny and a warm 28 degrees centigrade. However, what struck us most was the extreme warmth with which the airport authorities greeted our family. As my father was a diplomat, we were quickly ushered to the airport’s VIP Lounge. We were in transit on our way to Rawalpindi, the airport serving the capital of Islamabad.
We quickly realized that the word “we are from Sri Lanka” opened all doors just as saying “open sesame” gained entry to Aladdin’s cave! The broad smile, extreme courtesy, and genuine warmth we received from the Pakistani people were unbelievable.
This was all to do with Mrs Sirima Bandaranaike’s decision to allow Pakistani aircraft to land in Colombo to refuel on the way to Dhaka in East Pakistan during the military confrontation between Pakistan and India. It was a brave decision by Mrs Bandaranaike (Mrs B), and the successive governments and Sri Lanka people are still enjoying the fruits of it. Pakistan has been a steadfast and loyal supporter of our country. They have come to our assistance time and again in times of great need when many have turned their back on us. They have indeed been an “all-weather” friend of our country.
Getting back to 1972, I was an early beneficiary of Pakistani people’s love for Sri Lankans. I failed the entrance exam to gain entry to the only English medium school in Islamabad! However, when I met the Principal, along with my father, he said, “Sanjeewa, although you failed the entrance exam, I will this time make an exception as Sri Lankans are our dear friends.” After that, the joke around the family dinner table was that I owed my education in Pakistan to Mrs B!
At school, my brother and I were extended a warm welcome and always greeted “our good friends from Sri Lanka.” I felt when playing cricket for our college; our runs were cheered more loudly than of others.
One particular incident that I remember well was when the Embassy received a telex from the Foreign inistry. It requested that our High Commissioner seek an immediate meeting with the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr Zulifikar Ali Bhutto (ZB), and convey a message from Mrs B. The message requested that an urgent shipment of rice be dispatched to Sri Lanka as there would be an imminent rice shortage. As the Ambassador was not in the station, the responsibility devolved on my father.
It usually takes about a week or more to get an audience with the Prime Minister (PM) of a foreign country due to their busy schedule. However, given the urgency, my father spoke to the Foreign Ministry’s Permanent Sectary, who fortunately was our neighbour and sought an urgent appointment. My father received a call from the PM’s secretary around 10 P.M asking him to come over to the PM’s residence. My father met ZB around midnight. ZB was about to retire to bed and, as such, was in his pyjamas and gown enjoying a cigar! He had greeted my father and had asked, “Mr Jayaweera, what can we do for great friend Madam Bandaranaike?. My father conveyed the message from Colombo and quietly mentioned that there would be riots in the country if there is no rice!
ZB had immediately got the Food Commissioner of Pakistan on the line and said, “I want a shipload of rice to be in Colombo within the next 72 hours!” The Food Commissioner reverted within a few minutes, saying that nothing was available and the last export shipment had left the port only a few hours ago to another country. ZB had instructed to turn the ship around and send it to Colombo. This despite protests from the Food Commissioner about terms and conditions of the Letter of Credit prohibiting non-delivery. Sri Lanka got its delivery of rice!
The next was the visit of Mrs B to Pakistan. On arrival in Rawalpindi airport, she was given a hero’s welcome, which Pakistan had previously only offered to President Gaddafi of Libya, who financially backed Pakistan with his oil money. That day, I missed school and accompanied my parents to the airport. On our way, we witnessed thousands of people had gathered by the roadside to welcome Mrs B.
When we walked to the airport’s tarmac, thousands of people were standing in temporary stands waving Sri Lanka and Pakistan flags and chanting “Sri Lanka Pakistan Zindabad.” The noise emanating from the crowd was as loud and passionate as the cheering that the Pakistani cricket team received during a test match. It was electric!
I believe she was only the second head of state given the privilege of addressing both assemblies of Parliament. The other being Gaddafi. There was genuine affection from Mrs B amongst the people of Pakistan.
I always remember the indefatigable efforts of Mr Abdul Haffez Kardar, a cabinet minister and the President of the Pakistan Cricket Board. From around 1973 onwards, he passionately championed Sri Lanka’s cause to be admitted as a full member of the International Cricket Council (ICC) and granted test status. Every year, he would propose at the ICC’s annual meeting, but England and Australia’s veto kept us out until 1981.
I always felt that our Cricket Board made a mistake by not inviting Pakistan to play our inaugural test match. We should have appreciated Mr Kardar and Pakistan’s efforts. In 1974 the Pakistan board invited our team for a tour involving three test matches and a few first-class games. Most of those who played in our first test match was part of that tour, and no doubt gained significant exposure playing against a highly talented Pakistani team.
Several Pakistani greats were part of the Pakistan and India team that played a match soon after the Central Bank bomb in Colombo to prove that it was safe to play cricket in Colombo. It was a magnificent gesture by both Pakistan and India. Our greatest cricket triumph was in Pakistan when we won the World Cup in 1996. I am sure the players and those who watched the match on TV will remember the passionate support our team received that night from the Pakistani crowd. It was like playing at home!
I also recall reading about how the Pakistani government air freighted several Multi Barrell artillery guns and ammunition to Sri Lanka when the A rmy camp in Jaffna was under severe threat from the LTTE. This was even more important than the shipload of rice that ZB sent. This was crucial as most other countries refused to sell arms to our country during the war.
Time and again, Pakistan has steadfastly supported our country’s cause at the UNHCR. No doubt this year, too, their diplomats will work tirelessly to assist our country.
We extend a warm welcome to Mr Imran Khan, the Prime Minister of Pakistan. He is a truly inspirational individual who was undoubtedly an excellent cricketer. Since retirement from cricket, he has decided to get involved in politics, and after several years of patiently building up his support base, he won the last parliamentary elections. I hope that just as much as he galvanized Sri Lankan cricketers, his political journey would act as a catalyst for people like Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene to get involved in politics. Cricket has been called a “gentleman’s game.” Whilst politics is far from it!.
Covid-19 health rules disregarded at entertainment venues?
Believe me, seeing certain videos, on social media, depicting action, on the dance floor, at some of these entertainment venues, got me wondering whether this Coronavirus pandemic is REAL!
To those having a good time, at these particular venues, and, I guess, the management, as well, what the world is experiencing now doesn’t seem to be their concerned.
Obviously, such irresponsible behaviour could create more problems for those who are battling to halt the spread of Covid-19, and the new viriant of Covid, in our part of the world.
The videos, on display, on social media, show certain venues, packed to capacity – with hardly anyone wearing a mask, and social distancing…only a dream..
How can one think of social distancing while gyrating, on a dance floor, that is over crowded!
If this trend continues, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Coronavirus makes its presence felt…at such venues.
And, then, what happens to the entertainment scene, and those involved in this field, especially the musicians? No work, whatsoever!
Lots of countries have closed nightclubs, and venues, where people gather, in order to curtail the spread of this deadly virus that has already claimed the lives of thousands.
Thailand did it and the country is still having lots of restrictions, where entertainment is concerned, and that is probably the reason why Thailand has been able to control the spread of the Coronavirus.
With a population of over 69 million, they have had (so far), a little over 25,000 cases, and 83 deaths, while we, with a population of around 21 million, have over 80,000 cases, and more than 450 deaths.
I’m not saying we should do away with entertainment – totally – but we need to follow a format, connected with the ‘new normal,’ where masks and social distancing are mandatory requirements at these venues. And, dancing, I believe, should be banned, at least temporarily, as one can’t maintain the required social distance, while on the dance floor, especially after drinks.
Police spokesman DIG Ajith Rohana keeps emphasising, on TV, radio, and in the newspapers, the need to adhere to the health regulations, now in force, and that those who fail to do so would be penalised.
He has also stated that plainclothes officers would move around to apprehend such offenders.
Perhaps, he should instruct his officers to pay surprise visits to some of these entertainment venues.
He would certainly have more than a bus load of offenders to be whisked off for PCR/Rapid Antigen tests!
I need to quote what Dr. H.T. Wickremasinghe said in his article, published in The Island of Tuesday, February 16th, 2021:
“…let me conclude, while emphasising the need to continue our general public health measures, such as wearing masks, social distancing, and avoiding crowded gatherings, to reduce the risk of contact with an infected person.
“There is no science to beat common sense.”
But…do some of our folks have this thing called COMMON SENSE!