Posted on July 25th, 2022


The JVP did not fade away after April 1971 as it would have done, had it been a purely local affair. Instead, JVP met secretly and reorganized.    JVP first retreated into their hideouts in the jungles of the North Central Province. They moved the camps from place to place.  They did not stay in one place for long. The leader at Namal oya camp was in a separate chena known only to couple of trustworthy members.

There were jail breaks. In November 1971 JVPers escaped from Vidyalankara, Vidyodaya and Weerawila camps. At Vidyalankara, they   escaped through a tunnel which they had dug.  Prison authorities had earlier reported that there was no tunnel  leading to the conclusion that JVP has accomplices in the prison. At Anuradhapura prison as they escaped, JVPers had freed the other prisoners as well.

The plan was to get back the original cadres rather than recruit new ones. JVP prisoners received visits by   persons pretending to be relatives. They carried JVP messages in and out of these camps and prisons.  JVP cadres   met them as they were released. One of the places used for this was the Peradeniya University.  It was done discreetly without arousing suspicions of undergrads, said Indradasa.

howver, some of the 1971 lot did not  join. most, if not all, of the surviving Wellawaya JVPers  did not join in the 1988-9 JVP  terrorism, said Lalin Fernando. instead there were new recruits such as Richard de Soyza.

Somawansa Amarasinghe, fleeing the country, had hidden in a house provided by Richard de  Soyza. Richard was translating a book by Wijeweera into English the night he was abducted. Richard had tried to get the radio and TV stations paralyzed  during the 1987  insurgenecy. Richard  was not the hero that the media had projected him to be.  Ben Bavinck  recroded in October 1989 that a  Sinahla pastor from Kurunegala  had told him that several JVP members were Christian, the pastor knew them personally.

Cells were established throughout the country except North and East. Cells were set up in Colombo, Galle, Tangalle, Embilipitiya, Ratnapura, Polonnaruwa, Chilaw Kegalle and Moneragala.  There were cells of 25 in each police area  Cells were all linked with each other.  Cells were used for recruitment, indoctrination, and weapons training. Cells were organized in schools as well. JVP also later had   cells at Walkers and Central Finance Co in Kandy

The five lectures had originated in 1968 and were developed in 1969. In 1977 the five lectures were revised. They now focused on the need to capture power by force.  They were given by specially trained members.

After 1971, JVP made changes in its structure. All key points in the organization were held by those loyal to Rohana Wijeweera. A secret Central Committee was established, which gave the main directions.  The identities of this secret committee were known only to the district organizers. The leading JVPers had code names.

The JVP was wary of those who wanted to join them and they were first screened. There was tight control of information. Those who came for lectures were given places to meet at, from where they would be taken to a secret venue. The organization structure of JVP was secretive. It was almost beyond destruction said Rohan Gunaratna. 

By 1977, Wijeweera had set-up an organization with thirteen Politbureau members and twenty-nine Central Committee members. The Politbureau Members were Rohana Wijeweera, Upatissa Gamanayake, Piyadasa Ranasinghe, Saman Piyasiri Fernando, P.B. Wimalaratne, Gunaratna Wanasinghe, Sumith Athukorale, Somawansa Amerasinghe, H.B. Herath, D.M. Ananda, Shantha Bandara, Nandatillake Galapatthi and Lalith Wijeratne. Names of the Central Committee members are given in the footnote below. [1]

The JVP Politburo never met in full session. They got together only in ones, twos or threes. It was D M Ananda the functionary number 1 in the JVP’ who conveyed decisions from one group to another.

The organization was divided into three Departments. The departments were directly placed under the Politbureau. Department No1” consisted of Zonal Committees. The island was divided into five zones, (i) Western/Sabaragamuwa; (ii) Central; (iii) Rajarata; (iv) Uva/Eastern, and (v) Southern.   Analysts noted that the North and North West were excluded. The names of the Zonal leader are given in the footnote below.[2] 

The Zonal Committees were in turn divided into District Committees which were placed under the leadership of members of the Central Committee. The District Committees were headed By Central Committee members. Names of District committee members are given in footnote below. [3]   .

Each district was divided into a number of Divisions. A district could have two or more Divisions, depending on the size and requirements. Each Division had a Divisional Secretary, and a Secretary each for education, finance, military organization, propaganda, youth, students, workers, bhikkhu and women. Rank wise, the Secretaries of the Divisions were just below the Central Committee. But often, a single person   held various ranks simultaneously. The military wing had   an operation leader, trainer, intelligence specialist,  planner and strategist

Divisions were classified and numbered .  Kandy district was divided into four divisions D1 to D4. D1 contained K 33, K 66 and K 99. K 33 was Mahanuwara, Senkadagala ,K 66 was Udunuwara, Yatinuwara   and K 99 was Galaha, Marassana and Talatuoya. D2 was Gampola and Nawalapitiya, D3 was Galagedera and Harispattuwa, D4 was Teldeniya, Ududumbara, Kundasala and Wattegama.  With the exception of Wattegama, l these are  the polling divisions of the Kandy electorate.

Department No. 2” consisted of National Committees. There were national committees for Education, Finance, Propaganda, and Military Organization. Gunaratne Wanasinghe headed the committee for education; Finance was Somawansa Amerasinghe, Propaganda, Upatissa Gamanayake and Military, Saman Piyasiri Fernando

Department No. 3” consisted of eight Front Organizations. They were Youth, Students, Bhikkhus, Women, Trade unions, Rural,  Cultural and Propaganda. Through these JVP   expanded its support among school children, university students, unemployed youth, Buddhist monks, the nationalist intelligentsia and intermediate layers of rural Sinhala society” said analysts. The women’s wing was started in  1983 and schools girls joined.

There was  the Patriotic Students Movement for secondary schools. This was entirely controlled by the JVP though they avoided getting identified directly with it.  Branches of this organization were set up in several schools in Colombo and outstations.  The intention was to build up a membership, especially in the ‘A’ level classes, from which these students would enter university. This would ensure a readymade membership from among freshers.  JVP had put up posters near smaller schools so that an awareness of JVP would be in their minds when they reached A levels. This was one of their most valued sources of recruitment.

In the universities JVP started with action committees. From these developed a powerful apex organization, the Inter-University Student Federation (IUSF). The IUSF co-ordinated student activities in a national level. The IUSF  became the most powerful organization formed by JVP in the universities.   By 1985, the JVP came to dominate student politicsin school and University.

Analysts noted that the Arts students, who had traditionally given the lead, were now the followers. At the Peradeniya University, it was the Engineering students who took the lead, at the Colombo University it was the  Science undergrads and  at  Ruhuna , it was the medical students. 

Two powerful  bhikkhu fronts, Deshapremi Taruna Bhikshu Sanvidanaya and Manava Hitavadi Bhikkhu Sanvidanaya were set up by the JVP  in the 1980s  Young bhikkhus, some from University  joined these fronts  and were  very active. The possibility of some bhikkhus giving up their robes and joining the JVP/DJV cannot be ruled out, said Attanayake.  It is also  possible that members of the JVP, posing as priests, went to various temples to propagate their ideology. The robe  could be used to great advantage, observed Indradasa. The robe offered cover, and had impact on a Buddhist population. 

However, this was not the first JVP bhikkhu  organization . Young bhikkhus had participated in the 1971 insurgency. The decision to  start the 1971 attack was  taken in  the  Bhikkhu hostel of a university. In Kotmale insurgent activity had  centered around the Buddhist temple, where they coordinated the plan to attack the police station.   Fifty     six bhikkhus had been arrested by 1976. The correct figure could he much higher, said analysts.

These bhikkhus had gone to great lengths to provide all kinds of incidental help, said Attanayake. These bhikkhus had  assisted in raising funds for the organization. They  had provided shelter in abandoned temples to JVP members on the run. These temples were also used for storing weapons.

For the trade union front, JVP created their own trade unions and also infiltrated the trade unions of other political parties. JVP-led trade union, the Samastha Lanka Sevaka Sangamaya which only had about 500 to start  with, benefited by the July 1980 strike where the government dismissed over 40,000 workers. They also  benefited from the Nurses strike of 1986.   JVP tried to take over the GMOA but failed.

There were 17 JVP dominated or controlled trade unions in 1986. A trade union combine, called Janata Satan Peramuna, comprising all JVP trade unions was formed thereafter. When JVP trade unions were proscribed, JVP infiltrated the service itself.

JVP also set up  the Jatika Sisya Madyastanaya and the Jatika Kamkaru Satan Madyastanaya. Jatika Sisiya Madhastanaya handled all JVP action in schools and technical colleges . It formed committees of teachers, parents, and staff.  In 1986 JVP had support in over 2000 schools in island except in north and east.

 there were also ‘sympathetic  organisations’ such as   ‘Citizens Committee of Colombo’, ‘HR  organization of University teachers’ and  ‘international University bhikkhu Federation.

JVP conducted  its  propaganda at village, district and town level. JVP had monthly, bi weekly and weekly publications.  Publications had militant sounding titles,  such as Vedihanda”,” Ripalaya” (rifle)” Aragalaya”.  Some publications were targeted  towards specific groups, such as fishermen, school teachers, or  security forces By 1987 these publications were popular at village level. there were also the  JVP  radio transmissions. Postersgave time and frequency.

To attract mass support at village level JVP  organized several attractive campaigns in late 1970s and 1980s where  Wijeweera said that JVP was the leading left movement in the country. The JVP are the only saviors  of the workers ,unemployed, students and the masses.

Speakers at public meetings of JVP were articulate, they were carefully handpicked, progress monitored. Many listened to speeches  even if they did not agree with all of it,  to hear the criticisms against those in power in the country. Hundreds joined JVP  from 1983-1987 and were indoctrinated.

JVP was  a major underground force from1983-1987. JVP had   grass roots contacts and  knew exactly where to go and whom to meet  it was not possible to catch the JVP in a particular area, because there was absolute secrecy. they used five to ten aliases.  

 leaders and cadres never operated in an area native to them. Nobody knew them.  . there was a rapid transfer of activists from one unit to another or from one zone to another.  if  the leader was caught, he would be rapidly replaced       Even if all are taken from one district those in the other district will oversee, said Rohan Gunaratna.  

By 1984, the JVP had decided on a second armed struggle. JVP’s plans for the next insurgency was known to the authorities from July 1983, said  Rohan Gunaratne.

 in 1984 JVP  started camps for    military training in jungles between Ampara and Siyambalanduwa, there were camps at Hiniduma, Hambegamuva. Hambegamuwa camp was a major JVP training center.

Batches of 30 to 40 were trained for five to seven days. these temporary training camps familiarized member with various types of weapons such as T56, AK 47, said Indradasa. This was done mainly by hand drawn sketches, and pictures of rifles. A rudimentary military training was given.  There were also classes in physical training. At the camp trainees were forbidden to divulge real name, and  place of residence,  only the leader knew the names.

A separate military wing  was set up in 1986  and JVP started to collect weapons. Weapons were discovered in Ruhuna, Colombo  and Peradeniya  universities..in 1987 intelligence services had received reports of university students undergoing weaponry training in camps of the Deshapremi Janatha Vyapaaraya  DJV. The biggest such training camp was held in the Erathna area, near Sri Pada in January 1987. Maheepala Kodippili, following his arrest, admitted to the CID on June 19, 1987, that he had attended the training camp along with a group of university students under the direction of Sarath of the Colombo University. 

 JVP leader Padmasiri was asked to form an armed student battalion. there were at least 100 combat trained JVPers in University of Ruhuna. Undergraduates  had played a key role in the raid on Pallekelle army camp.

[1] Central Committee Members were  Gamini Wijegunasekera, Kandewatte, Amarasiri, Lionel Fernando, Ragama Some, Upali Jayaweera, Norman Manawadu, Ananda Idagama, Ruwan, Jayatilaka. Palitha, Jude Anthnny, Mirigama Chandare, P. Thangarajah, Gamini Jayalath, Beligalla Siriwardene, Aruna Wijesuriya, Gunapala Satharasinghe, Ariyasena, Piyasena Ramanayake, Dharmawardhana Munasinghe, Indraratne, Samaranayake, Algiriye Munasinghe, Y.M. Aheyratne, K.G. Jinadasa, Sirimal, Ranjitham Gunaratnam and  Kitulagoda. 

[2] The Zonal Leaders were 1.Western/Saharagamuwa Zone Political Secretary: D.M. Ananda Military Secretary: Saman Piyasiri Fernando 2. Central Zone Political Secretary: Piyadas:1 Ranasinghe Military Secretary: H.B. Herath 3. Rajarata Zone Political Secretary: Lalith Wijeratne Military Secretary: Lalith Wijeratne 4. Southern Zone Political Secretary: Upatissa Gamanayake Military Secretary: Upatissa Gamanayake 5. Uva/Eastern Zone Political Secretary: Shantha Bandara Military Secretary: H.B. Herath( godahewa probably)

[3] Distdct Secretaries D.M. Ananda (Colombo), Dharmawardana Munasinghe (Gampaha), P.K.B.A. Indraratne (Kegalle), Mahinda (Puttalam), Upali Jayaweera (Kandy), Dhammika ldamegama (Matale), Ranjitham Gunaratnam (Kurunegale), Wimalaratne (Kalutara), S.K. Jayatilaka (Galle), Gamini Wijegunesekera (Matara), Ariyasena (Hambantota), Sumeda (Polonnaruwa), Tissa (AnUradhapura), Premakumar (Trincomalee), Shantha Bandara (Nuwara-Eiiya), Amarasiri (Badulla) and Kandewatte (Monaragale


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.



Copyright © 2023 LankaWeb.com. All Rights Reserved. Powered by Wordpress