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Was Madush kneeling or upright when death claimed him?

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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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Features

Investigative Journalism?

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I usually end up totally exhausted when I finish reading the local newspapers from the Pearl. There are so many burning questions and so much is written about them but there are no conclusions and definitely no answers. For example, we seem to have three burning issues right now and this is not in order of importance.

We have a lengthy report that has been published on the Easter Sunday carnage. Everybody knows what I am talking about. However, no one, be it an editor, a paid journalist or a single one of the many amateurs who write to the papers, has reached a conclusion or even expressed an opinion as to who was responsible. At least not a believable one! Surely there are energetic and committed young people in the field of journalism today who, if asked, or directed properly will go out and find a source that would give them at least a credible hypothesis? Or do conclusions exist and has no one the courage to publish them?

At least interview the authors or should I use the word perpetrators of that report. If they refuse to be interviewed ask them why and publish an item every day asking them why! Once you get a hold of them, cross-examine them, trap them into admissions and have no mercy. It is usually geriatrics who write these reports in the Pearl and surely a bright young journalist can catch them out with a smart question or two, or at least show us that they tried? The future of the country depends on it!

We have allegations of contaminated coconut oil been imported. These are very serious allegations and could lead to much harm to the general populace. Do you really believe that no one can find out who the importers are and what brands they sell their products under? In this the Pearl, where everyone has a price, you mean to say that if a keen young journalist was given the correct ammunition (and I don’t mean 45 calibres) and sent out on a specific message, he or she couldn’t get the information required?

We are told that a massive amount of money has been printed over the last few months. There is only speculation as to the sums involved and even more speculation as to what this means to the people of the Pearl. Surely, there are records, probably guarded by extremely lowly paid government servants. I am not condoning bribery but there is nothing left to condone, is there? There are peons in government ministries who will gladly slip you the details if you are committed enough and if you are sent there to get it by a boss who will stand by you and refuse to disclose his sources.

I put it to you, dear readers, that we do not have enough professional, committed and adequately funded news organisations in the country. We can straightaway discount the government-owned joints. We can also largely discount those being run by magnates for personal gain and on personal agendas. As far as the Internet goes, we can forget about those that specialise in speculative and sensationalist untruths, what are we left with O denizens of the Pearl? Are there enough sources of news that you would consider willing to investigate a matter and risk of life and limb and expose the culprits for the greater good of society? Can they be counted even on the fingers of one hand?

In this era when we have useless political leaders, when law and order are non-existent when the police force is a joke, it is time the fourth estate stepped up to the mark! I am sure we have the personnel; it is the commitment from the top and by this, I mean funding and the willingness to risk life and limb, that we lack. Governments over the last few decades have done their best to intimidate the press and systematically destroy any news outlet that tried to buck the usual sycophantic behaviour that is expected from them by those holding absolute power.

Do you think Richard Nixon would ever have been impeached if not for the Watergate reporting? Donald Trump partially owes his defeat to the unrelenting campaign carried out against him by the “fake news” outlets that he tried to denigrate. Trump took on too much. The fourth estate of America is too strong and too powerful to destroy in a head-to-head battle and even the most powerful man in the world, lost. Let’s not go into the merits and demerits of the victor as this is open to debate.

Now, do we have anything like that in the Pearl? Surely, with 20 million-plus “literate” people, we should? We should have over 70 years of independence built up the Fourth Estate to be proud of. One that would, if it stood strong and didn’t waver and collapse under pressure from the rulers, have ensured a better situation for our land. Here is Aotearoa with just five million people, we have journalists who keep holding the government to account. They are well-funded by newspapers and TV networks with audiences that are only a fraction of what is available in the Pearl. Some of the matters they highlight often bring a smirk of derision to my face for such matters wouldn’t even warrant one single line of newsprint, should they happen in the Pearl.

Talking of intimidation from the rulers, most of us are familiar with the nationalisation of the press, the murder and torture of journalists, the burning of presses to insidious laws been passed to curtail the activities of Journalism. These things have happened in other countries, too, but the people and press have been stronger, and they have prevailed. We are at a watershed, an absolutely crucial time. It is now that our last few credible news sources should lift their game. Give us carefully researched and accurate reports with specific conclusions, not generalisations. Refuse to disclose your sources as is your right, especially now that the myopic eye of the UNHCR is turned in our direction.

All other ways and means of saving our beloved motherland, be it government, religion, sources of law and order and even civil society leadership seems to have lapsed into the realm of theory and rhetoric. Our last chance lies with the Fourth Esate and all it stands for. I call for, nay BEG for, a favourable reaction from those decision-makers in that field, who have enough credibility left in society, DON’T LET US DOWN NOW!

 

 

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Features

The world sees ugly side of our beauty pageants

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Yes, it’s still the talk-of-the-town…not only here, but the world over – the fracas that took place at a recently held beauty pageant, in Colombo.

It’s not surprising that the local beauty scene has hit a new low because, in the past, there have been many unpleasant happenings taking place at these so-called beauty pageants.

On several occasions I have, in my articles, mentioned that the state, or some responsible authority, should step in and monitor these events – lay down rules and guidelines, and make sure that everything is above board.

My suggestions, obviously, have fallen on deaf ears, and this is the end result – our beauty pageants have become the laughing stock the world over; talk show hosts are creating scenes, connected with the recent incidents, to amuse their audience.

Australians had the opportunity of enjoying this scenario, so did folks in Canada – via talk show hosts, discussing our issue, and bringing a lot of fun, and laughter, into their discussions!

Many believe that some of these pageants are put together, by individuals…solely to project their image, or to make money, or to have fun with the participants.

And, there are also pageants, I’m told, where the winner is picked in advance…for various reasons, and the finals are just a camouflage. Yes, and rigging, too, takes place.

I was witnessed to one such incident where I was invited to be a judge for the Talent section of a beauty contest.

There were three judges, including me, and while we were engrossed in what we were assigned to do, I suddenly realised that one of the contestants was known to me…as a good dancer.

But, here’s the catch! Her number didn’t tally with the name on the scoresheet, given to the judges.

When I brought this to the notice of the organiser, her sheepish reply was that these contestants would have switched numbers in the dressing room.

Come on, they are no babes!

On another occasion, an organiser collected money from the mother of a contestant, promising to send her daughter for the finals, in the Philippines.

It never happened and she had lots of excuses not to return the money, until a police entry was made.

Still another episode occurred, at one of these so-called pageants, where the organiser promised to make a certain contestant the winner…for obvious reasons.

The judges smelt something fishy and made certain that their scoresheets were not tampered with, and their choice was crowned the winner.

The contestant, who was promised the crown, went onto a frenzy, with the organiser being manhandled.

I’m also told there are organisers who promise contestants the crown if they could part with a very high fee (Rs.500,000 and above!), and also pay for their air ticket.

Some even ask would-be contestants to check out sponsors, on behalf of the organisers. One wonders what that would entail!

Right now, in spite of the pandemic, that is crippling the whole world, we are going ahead with beauty pageants…for whose benefit!

Are the organisers adhering to the Covid-19 health guidelines? No way. Every rule is disregarded.

The recently-held contest saw the contestants, on the move, for workshops, etc., with no face masks, and no social distancing.

They were even seen in an open double-decker bus, checking out the city of Colombo…with NO FACE MASKS.

Perhaps, the instructions given by Police Spokesman DIG Ajith Rohana, and Army Commander, General Shavendra Silva, mean nothing to the organisers of these beauty pageants…in this pandemic setting.

My sincere advice to those who are keen to participate in such events is to check, and double check. Or else, you will end up being deceived…wasting your money, time, and energy.

For the record, when it comes to international beauty pageants for women, Miss World, Miss Universe, Miss Earth and Miss International are the four titles which reign supreme.

In pageantry, these competitions are referred to as the ‘Big Four.’

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Better use of vanity projects; Cass apologises, and New Year graciousness

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A wise one, with the interests of the country at heart, calling himself ‘A Member of the Silent Majority’, wrote in The Island of Friday, April 9, offering an excellent solution for the better and genuine use of the Mattala Mahinda Rajapaksa International Airport which was built at a stupendous cost to both the Treasury, and wildlife abundant in the area, to satisfy an ego and sycophants’ cries of Hail to the King. Even sans Covid and lockdowns and shut downs of airports, the Mattala Airport was a white elephant, endangering and displacing the black elephants, roaming along their familiar corridors; receiving such few airplanes. Thus, as the writer Cass mentions says, convert the airport to a super hotel with excellent and sure-fire access to wildlife watching, like referred to hotels in Kenya and elsewhere. Yes, it will definitely be a bigger money earner than an airport waiting for a plane to land. Expensive equipment going rusty could be transferred to smaller airports being developed all over the island. There was such a hue and cry when storerooms, within the deserted airport, were used for paddy storage, but not even a whimper of concerted protest when the vanity projects were being built. We also heard that on the rare occasions a plane was to land/take off, peacocks in the area were shot at to prevent them flying into the planes. Aney, what a sin, just to have a name on a nameboard! Use the Suriyawewa Cricket Stadium too for a better purpose and less costly to water and maintain green in near desert climate conditions. What about a residential training institute for youth, perhaps in small industries? If the king-sized ego demands the name be present, OK, leave it. What’s in a name?

Any matter, financial or economic, with benefit to country buttressing it – refer to Dr Harsha de Silva and Eran Wickremaratne. Likewise, anything pertaining to fauna, flora and preservation of natural habitats ask Devani Jayathilake. Cassandra would give two years of her life (she does not have 10 left, she suspects) to know what the answers of the three wise and sincere ones mentioned would be to the proposal to convert the Mattala Airport, oops sorry – Mattala Mahinda Rajapaksa International Airport – to a 7 star hotel for wildlife watching and then tourists proceeding to Yala and other places that were touted to be reached easier if planes brimful of tourists, landed in Mattala. Pipe dream even sans Covid-19.

The thought of the millions, nay billions, our country was indebted to China to construct these vanity projects aka white elephants of the Rajapaksa fiefdom sends Cass’s blood racing in her contracting veins. And now another hair-brained scheme is being exposed, not new but re-exposed: that of the stupendous amount sent direct from the Central Bank with no nod, as reported, from the then Cabinet or Parliament, to an American-resident con-man to improve our appearance on the world stage or at least American stage. My word!! Cosmetics of creams and colours and such like can improve the face of an already beautiful woman. But a country that was once beautiful, glorified, accepted internationally and then politician-spoilt, cannot be redeemed by PR work, however expensively. Nivard Cabraal was the then Govenor of the CB. Of course, as every Banda, Singho and their women say, nothing will come of this. Powerful political sweeping under the carpet in the presence of cardboard administrators and sycophantic hosanna singers, makes the matter disappear and not merely hides it. Unless of course there are enough intrepid outers-of-truths and persistent protestors, brave and national minded enough to continuously tease the matter like a cat its caught rat. Ranjan is locked away in hard labour for four solid years, losing his Parliamentary seat for misusing the gift of his gab, while convicted murderers of the right colour attend Parliament, escorted and all.

Cass apologises

To the reigning Mrs World, Mrs Caroline Jurie, for crowning, uncrowning and recrowning of the winner of the recent Mrs Sri Lanka contest. Caroline Jurie took this stride because the winning contestant was four years on the way to being a divorcee, which status forbids a woman from attempting to wear the crown of Mrs…. (country) with a view to becoming Mrs World. This title and honour is bestowed on a woman who promotes, holds sacred the institution of marriage and is a married woman. Cass castigated Caroline Jurie without knowing then the fact that Jurie had protested about this candidate being considered due to her impending divorce; and allowed to contest. She said she withdrew from the panel of judges since her point was not taken by the others. WHY is the Q. Easy to answer. The new beauty queen of shaky married status was a loud speaker in favour of Presidential Candidate Gotabaya R in Polonnaruwa (captured on social media) and probably spoke on stages for SLPP Parliamentary candidates. So of course she was slated to win; vision impaired over rules and future probabilities, She has her height – one advantage. Beauty can always be dexterously rubbed and painted in. But honesty is important and cannot be cloned or grafted in.

Cass now definitely faults the new Mrs Sri Lanka. She should not have contested, having her papers sent in for divorce and not retracted. What happens when she wins the divorce (or her husband wins it, however the divorce was first mooted). Another local contest? And if the divorce was still pending and she went overseas at great expense and won THE crown or a lesser one. To be returned forthwith when she has to remove the present gold band from her third finger, which probably she has already removed but hastily wore for the contest and when preparing for it? This is why Cass avows that many young women particularly, are so very selfish and forward and uppity and even dishonest now. In Cass’ time and even a decade or two later, a girl would never do what this new beauty has done, flipped aside a core rule and necessity of the contest, just to win by honest means or foul. Way the country’s going, my friend.

Post – Aluth Avurudhu

Cassandra is stuffed gill-high with kavun, aluwa and crunchy kokis, preceded by kiributh and lunumiris. She is fending for herself because a dip in Covid numbers and having had the jab, her domestic wished to enjoy a family new year having missed the last one, locked down as we were. Cass made her own kiributh – tasting somewhat like it should, but the sweets were all gifted her. So, also the offers of help, sleep-ins at others’ homes and solicitous frequent inquiries of ‘how are you?’ Kind and gracious relatives and friends, acquaintances too are thanked; and the most appreciated being neighbouring kitchen helps and care givers. Three-wheeler drivers who spin Cass around on errands too make enquiries. And thus her thoughts when resuming work at the nekath time and word processing this article. Sri Lankans are such good people: kind, caring, willing to share and genuine. And then specters themselves on this very sunny landscape: the dishonest, selfish, revengeful and disgraceful. Shrug them off, clear the mental picture and pronounce thank goodness for goodness around.

May all of us (decent people) have a very good year to follow today –Subha Aluth Avuruddhak!

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