Protestor Jagath Wimalasooriya pays the ultimate price | Sunday Observer

Protestor Jagath Wimalasooriya pays the ultimate price

Jagath Wimalasooriya
Jagath Wimalasooriya

Not surprisingly, the Joint Opposition Janabalaya protest march amidst all its chaos was not without casualty. Jagath Wimalasooriya, a 39-year-old father of three from Kudagama, Hatton had travelled to Colombo on the day to extend his support to former president Mahinda Rajapaksa made the ultimate sacrifice for his political idol going on to leave behind this world and his family unexpectedly.

A conductor of a private bus, Wimalasooriya had joined the protest along with Hatton - Dikoya Pradeshiya Sabha member Shashi Rathnayake. According to the father of Wimalasooriya (62) his son was healthy and had no known illnesses. “He left Hatton that day around 9.30am to join the JO protest” he said adding that to their shock they later heard he was admitted to hospital and declared dead.

According to Rathnayake the group upon reaching Colombo had parked the bus in Maligawatta area to commence their march towards the Lake House roundabout around 3.30pm.

During this march held on a particularly hot day, Wimalasooriya had conveyed to his friends that he was feeling unwell and therefore would return to the bus instead. Returning to the bus around 6.45 p.m. that day the group had discovered Wimalasooriya lying motionless on a seat. “We tried to revive him but were not able to despite repeated attempts” Ratnayake says adding that they took steps to admit him to hospital thereafter.

However it was to no avail with Wimalasooriya being declared dead on arrival at the Colombo National Hospital. Judicial Medical Officer of the Colombo National Hospital, W.A.C Lakmali later confirmed that he had died due to a severe attack of gastritis which had then led to a stroke.

After the incident many lambasted the rally organisers for their failure to facilitate necessary first aid services to those attending with many protestors becoming violently ill due to the excessive consumption of alcohol and food poisoning. Others were seen passed out on roads with no one attending to them.

In fact, according to the Colombo National Hospital while Wimalasooriya was declared dead on arrival, eight people were admitted due to food poisoning and yet another eight persons were admitted due to minor injuries sustained during the protest.

Releasing a statement on his Facebook account Minister Harsha De Silva also confirmed that one person was admitted to hospital through the Government 1990 Suwasariya ambulance service due to intoxication. Another attendee also met with his death when returning from the protest. The man died after he was knocked down by a vehicle in Nittambuwa while crossing the road carelessly to buy pineapple sources said. He too had died on admission to hospital.

According to Human Rights activist Attorney-at-Law S.G. Punchihewa, today, the trend is to bring people onto roads to achieve the personal agendas of politicians. “Seeing the behaviour of the people it is hard to believe they attend these in their own interest” he says adding that a prime example is providing food and liquor to those attending. Pointing out that in the past leftists parties especially never provided such incentives to make people join the protests he said that instead the people came out due to their own political convictions.

Though reasons that moved Wimalasooriya to join the protest will not be known his family has been left destitute. If those he sought to support will return the favour is hard to tell. But with his wife working as a housemaid in the Middle East, his two sons and daughter aged five have sadly now been left without their main caregiver due to his untimely death.