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Author Topic: The 1971 Insurgency in the Uva area.  (Read 2113 times)
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Tonyper
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« on: August 10, 2008, 10:35:33 AM »

At the time the Insurgency occurred, Ranjan Wijeratne was on Demodra Group and I was on Battawatte Estate in Madulsima. Ranjan was on the Council of the P.A. and also a Planting Representative in the C.E.E.F. He requested me to arrange transport of essential foostuffs from Colombo to Uva using estate lorries and also to persuade groups of planters within the district, to patrol certain main roads in the vicinity of their estates, armed with shotguns available on their estates, several times a day.

These assignments were to be undertaken by liasing with the Government Agent in Badulla and with the members of the Police Force who were stationed throughout the district.

He made this request as, at that time, I was representing Uva as District Chairman at  the Planters' Association and the Ceylon Estate Employers' Federation in Colombo.

The former assignment went off well, as estates' lorries took consignments of tea to Colombo and returned with essential foodstuffs to the estates which distributed them to workers within the estates. I remember 'patrolling' the main road from Madulsima town passing Verellapatana, Galloola, Battawatte, Cocogalla estates to Roeberry and back to the town.

In these 'patrols' I was joined by Cyril Fernando, Dick Van Houten and Panditha Jayatunge each with an estate hand-me-down unloaded shotgun in untried and dubious condition. Patrols went on for no more than three or four days and were thankfully uneventful.

In hindsight, I believe we were not only foolish to have undertaken these patrols but also very lucky in that we were not ambushed and slain by the insurgents. We had been quite unaware that they had not only infiltrated the areas that we passed but also had been observing our patrols as we passed them on long isolated stretches of roads.

Later, a resolution was unanimously passed at a district meeting of the PA. that it was decided that Planters ought not to be required to carry out obviously dangerous 'policing' work by patrolling public roads to keep them safe from insurgents.

Tony Perera
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