South Asia

Duraiappah, the first political victim of militants in North

Alfred Thambirajah Duraiappah (1926-1975), after whom a stadium in Jaffna has been named and renovated, became the first political victim during the 1970s to a spell of terror unleashed by militants in the Northern Province which subsequently turned into a full fledged armed struggle.

Duraiappah, who was Jaffna Mayor at the time of his death, was shot dead by a youth in July 1975, when he was walking to his car after worshipping at a temple in Jaffna. He was a member of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, which was then led by Sirimavo Bandaranaike, who was also the Prime Minister.

In 1960, he was elected to Parliament from Jaffna, defeating G.G. Ponnambalam, one of the important Tamil leaders from the North. However, Duraiappah, in his subsequent attempts, could not make it to the Parliament.

Though many chroniclers of Sri Lankan contemporary history have mentioned that V. Prabhakaran, founder of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) had his baptism of fire by gunning down Duraiappah, a news report published by The Hindu dated July 20, 1978, on the acquittal of five persons in the murder case did not refer to him. Instead, the news report adverted to one Balasubramaniam Kalapathy, who was discharged by the Colombo High Court along with four others.

Nine years later, President J.R. Jayawardene had made public his plan of putting Prabhakaran on trial for the murder case but he dropped the idea later.

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Printable version | Jan 16, 2021 1:48:55 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/south-asia/Duraiappah-the-first-political-victim-of-militants-in-North/article14431856.ece

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