Posted on July 31st, 2022


The JVP’s Political Bureau  its highest decision  making body decided  in September 1970 decided to begin collecting arms, with Loku Athula placed in charge of the armed section and directed to collect 100,000 bombs. At the next PB meeting, held at year-end, Loku Athula reported that 3,000 bombs were ready.

The hand bomb was the JVPs main weapon. But guns and ammunition were also being purchased and stolen and stored by the JVP, in one instance at the Talagalle Temple at Homagama, which was raided by the Police. Uniforms for JVP combatants were being produced secretly, mainly at Vidyodaya Campus; a blue shirt and trouser with pockets, a cartridge belt, boots and helmet. JVP refilled their cartridges to       reuse them in shot guns with small charge, said Ranatunge.

JVP manufactured bombs. In 1970 JVP had experimented with making safety bombs and Molotov cocktails.  “Bombs were also being made using cheena chatti, cast iron shells, dynamite and an elementary mechanism to blow them up. Empty tinkiri tins were ordered from factories and sent around the country to make crude bombs,” said Sunanda Deshapriya.  JVP conducted training classes in bombs at Kandy, Matale, Nuwara  Eliya, Moneragala, Ampara, Polonnaruwa, Trincomalee, Kalutara. In  1970 3000 bombs were sent  to Badulla, Anuradhapura, Trincomalee and Jaffna.   

A past pupil of a leading school in Kandy had acquired the knowhow to manufacture bombs from a forensic book in the British Council Library and was teaching his accomplices in the Peradeniya University and elsewhere the art of assembling the bombs. The bombs that the militants did make were not that lethal. They were mainly smoke bombs that we just kicked out of the way, said Tassie Seneviratne.

Edward  Gunawardene had examined the bombs thrown t them in  Kurunegala Police station. These ‘bombs’ were crude and primitive. In each of these we found a large ‘batta’ cracker the fuse of which came out of a hole in the lid of a cigarette tin. Round the ‘batta’ was a layer of tightly compressed fibres akin to the fibres in a squirrels nest. On the outer side of the compressed fibre were barbs cut off barbed wire and rusted nails. A thousand of such ‘bombs’ could not have matched the destructive force of a modern hand grenade. This state of unpreparedness was perhaps the foremost reason why the insurrection fizzled out early.

Wijeweera also gave instructions to Piyasiri to build under-ground storage facilities to hide their stock of weapons and explosives, but on 9 March an explosion at one of these hideouts, in Nelundeniya, killed five. This drew attention, nationally to the fact that the JVP was arming itself.

The JVP had hidden a large number of detonators in the ceiling of a room in Peradeniya University’s Marrs Hall and due to the heat, they began exploding like firecrackers. The explosions went on for five days. When the Police arrived and searched the halls of residence, they also found a stock of detonators at Hilda Obeysekera Hall.

A fresh set of weapons  were needed for the 1987  insurgency. Collection of weapons started in early 1987    and weapons training began in mid 1987. The instructors were deserters from the army.

Weapons were purchased for Rs. 50,000 from Nimrods. Galkatas manufacture increased in Weeraketiya, Beliatte and Middeniya in 1987,  but this was not sufficient. Guns were got after breaking into houses Island wide. There was a set pattern in doing this. JVP collected pistols and shotguns from people who had gun licenses from the Government. They only took the guns and ammunition, nothing else.

A spate of gun thefts were reported from Hakmana, Deniyaya, Nochchiyagama, and Balangoda in 1987. There were reports in May 1987 that more and more youths were collecting such weapons from houses in the south. 600 weapons, mostly shot guns were taken by JVP in July 1987. An ASP reported that his pistol and ammunition had been   stolen from his car in May 1987. 24 shot guns were taken from   villagers in Kohombana area in August 1988. 

There was also increasing theft of firearms from police stations and military stations.  JVP took guns and ammunition from Bentota and Kurunegala police stations and from Kotelawala Defence Academy, Panagoda army camp and Modera army     camp.

JVP  also had a quantity of quick firing automatic rifles better than what the IPKF had, said Chandraprema. Peradeniya undergrads were  armed with lethal weapons, observed Wiswa. Where did they get these guns Peradeniya academics asked.

The frequent use of landmines by the JVP indicated that JVP was receiving regular supplies of explosives from overseas, said Intelligence. The mystery surrounding the sources of arms supply to the JVP has not been resolved, said analysts. Occasional bombings  took place in the second insurgency too. There was a bomb in Gampaha in 1989.

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