Evolution Of A Movement: From JVP To NPP: From Violent Offensive Against Police Stations To Being Embraced By Them!

By Vishwamithra –

“Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers.” ~ Voltaire

‘Even if we are killed, the cry we raised will never die!’ (Apa maraa damuwath, apa negu handa sadaa nomiyenu etha). That  is a slogan/quote from an April-’71 Insurrectionist, a JVP fighter, during the failed insurrection in April 1971. He was tortured by the police at the time. The Sirimavo Bandaranaike government with aid from neighboring India and other so-called non-aligned countries crushed the revolution. Hundreds of youth who took part in the uprising and tens of thousands who attended the ‘Five-class’ indoctrination sessions were taken in for rehabilitation. Rohana Wijeweera, his Politburo and other leading members of the Party were in prison, prosecuted and sent to jail; Wijeweera for life imprisonment. Wijeweera’s strategy was to attack all Police Stations scattered in the country on one day at a predesignated hour. The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna made its incursions into the body politic of Ceylon. And come 2024, its residue and its cream of that oppressed thought process is rising its voice and this time the country is not only listening, its apparently hearing it too!

In 1971, the JVP and its machinations were a way ahead of their time. The Sirimavo regime was inefficient, corrupt and lethargic alright, but the country was not yet bankrupt. There were long queues but those lines were ascribed to adoption of wrong economic policies and following dogmatic Marxian theories of governance. However, the cry of the youth was legitimate; it was even valid but had not reached the length and breadth of the land. Mainly confined to the university campuses, the leadership of the JVP movement yet was consisting of part-educated youth whose Utopian dreams were more delusional than approximate to being even semi-realistic.

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Their path to power ran through the country’s police stations. At the time our police stations were hardly armed even to quell an attack by a local mob of unruly thugs. An errand theory backed by a halfhearted armed attack by youth whose training did not even go beyond how to salute a senior policeman did ultimately prove that it takes more than an ill-equipped band of university fanatics to topple a democratically elected government. They not only made a mess of their own cadres, they made lifelong enemies of the police, the country’s peacekeeping forces.   

It is indeed a remarkable irony of history. That history is still being written; on political platforms; in numerous columns written in numerous news media and also in the hearts and minds of an unforgetting generation; unforgetting, yes, but is it unforgiving too? One would have to wait till the elections. The colorful story of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), its evolution from a cellish, cadre-based political entity in the late nineteen sixties and seventies to the early nineteen eighties and then being driven underground in the mid nineteen eighties and reemerging as a gruesome force of vengeance and climaxing in the ’87 to ’89 period’s political violence has indeed traversed a long way.

Its sailing of the ‘movement’ which was identified as the JVP has been subjected to critical evaluation; sometimes to ridicule as a dead, non-existent political force. Such a political organization, if it were only limited to a political party along traditional contours, its revival would not have been real. However, if its fundamentals were based on suffering and its endurance, such a human development could become a mass movement; if it becomes a cascade of ideas and ideals, its continuance cannot be  thwarted. Mass movements are not based on temporary uprisings, they are founded on continuing flow of human thought and its universal value and relevance to the existing context.

If ideas, however radical or outside the prevailing social context they be, take ahold of a sizable segment of the population, they assume a totally exotic dimension. That dimension is unmistakably palpable today. In an election field mostly populated by traditional players such as the incumbent President Ranil Wickremesinghe, late President R Premadasa’s son Sajith Premadasa and potentially a member of the Rajapaksa family, the appearance and the leading role being played by an old boy of Thambuththegama Central Vidyalaya located in the midst of the Mahaweli Program, a candidate whose father was a laborer in the Survey Department, whose education was totally local, from secondary school to University education, the story that is unfolding is remarkable. Its prologue and its current contexts are irrevocably entangled with the sufferance and its endurance by the current generations.

That mass movement which marched from a cellish, cadre-based political party has now graduated to an enviable mainstream political entity; not a traditional party, but a mainstream party. That party whose embryo-stage organization hurled bullets and other ammunition from outdated galkatas-type handguns at the country’s police stations has become the only political party which is being backed by senior servicemen who did serve at the time the JVP attacked the police stations.

Ravi Seneviratne and Shani Abeysekera, two retired senior servicemen, Seneviratne as senior DIJ and Abeysekera as Director of the the CID, appeared on the NPP platform the other day and Seneviratne laid out a story of deeds and misdeeds of the past governments led by the so-called mainstream parties. What lay underneath what Seneviratne told the gathering- a vast crowd of retired policemen and policewomen- is indeed making hair stand on end. A chilling description of government  deceit and highly irregular activities and the the failure of the current government to hold those who committed those human-rights violations to account for each and every single deed of violation is astounding.

No carpet is expansive enough to conceal the dust- magnitude of the atrocities allegedly committed by a villy nilly few of government officers and some leading politicians. Lasantha Wickrematunge, editor of the Sunday Leader was murdered in broad daylight, Prageet Ekneligoda disappeared and his wife is still searching for an answer, Keith Noyahr was the associate editor of The Nation newspaper . He often wrote critical analyses of Sri Lanka’s security situation in his column “Military Matters”. He was abducted by a white van and was severely beaten for hours before being released in May 2008. Then came the ‘Mother of all massacres’, Easter Sunday massacre. A carefully planned and plotted mayhem against our own countrymen. Ravi Seneviratne shed some light on them. A full-blown exposure will come in time, I hope.

This is the stuff, exposure of cruelties of the Rajapaksas and their henchmen, Sajith and the SJB cannot boast about. People’s trust in Sajith and the SJB seems to go thus far and no further. That precisely is Sajith’s demeanor in politics too. Time and time again Sajith has failed to deliver his men and women beyond the red line. He has repeatedly failed and that seems to be a refrain with which he could be defined, in a very realistic sense. He does not seem to have the support of men and women of the caliber of Ravi  Seneviratne and Shani Abeysekera. Both Seneviratne and Abeysekera may not be the be all and end all at the forthcoming elections. Both of them may be flawed; but their contributions in the service they chose has been exemplary and their commitment to that service has never been questioned. The irony alone is what astounds any unbiased person. From being the focus of attack at the receiving end to those who embrace the very attackers. That is the stark irony of the story.

Easter Sunday attack is yet an unsolved mystery. Its resolution would have to await the formation of an NPP-led government, if that is a potential reality. Those who swindled the country’s treasures and its precious resources would not be taken to task other than in an NPP administration. That is why the status quo would be more than ready and equipped to see that the NPP would not  win the elections. Yet, whatever the fears, anxieties and dilemmas the opposition has, Anura Kumara Dissanayake and his party cannot relax even one minute. Twenty first Century is only a number in the context of identifying a time span. Human greed, human hatred and the pure evil traits of the human being has been the same since the dawn of civilization; the tools and weaponry have been sharpened and made more dependable in human conflict or the assassination enterprise, but that basic motivational element has not changed.

Counter revolution is extremely possible; those who expect to lose power, if suspicious about their misdeeds and corrupt practices are waiting to be exposed, their last attempt to perpetuate them selves through a proxy is not going to be an impossibility. The Rajapaksa family and their immediate cohorts are a band of thieves whose very preservation as a family-junta is being threatened and their last-ditch attempt should be anticipated. In such an extreme circumstance, the NPP should be ready and equipped to handle such a situation. No way the Rajapaksas and Wickremesinghes are going to go away with their hands folded and head bowed down. This is where the experience and know-how of the likes of Ravi Seneviratne and Shani Abeysekera would come in handy.

*The writer can be contacted at vishwamithra1984@gmail.com                                              

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