Cruelty of the May 9 mobs - Duminda Dissanayake | Sunday Observer

Cruelty of the May 9 mobs - Duminda Dissanayake

2 October, 2022

May 9 marked a dark day in Sri Lanka’s political history where many MPs and politicians fell victim to violent mobs that attacked and set fire to their homes and other property.

The violent groups went in search of the homes of Government Ministers and MPs. They then took steps to attack and set it all on fire. The cruelty and ruthlessness of these groups were evident through the killing of one MP on the roadside. The residence of Anuradhapura district MP and former cabinet Minister Duminda Dissanayake on the Anuradhapura Airport Road was also set alight and destroyed on May 9.

According to Dissanayake, no one was at home on that fateful day. “We were all in Colombo as my brother’s wife had just given birth. The incident had taken place during this time. In our family, only my father and I engaged in politics. As my father is no more, only I am involved in politics. But the house that was destroyed was neither built by my father nor myself.

It belonged to my maternal grandfather. The 70-year-old house was completely gutted in the fire. On the right side of the house was a hall built by me. It could house around 2000 chairs. It was used to hold meetings. This had also been set on fire. Nothing was left in the house including souvenirs of my grandfather and father, important documents, various items inherited from our grandfather, and my mother’s jewellery among others. We haven’t estimated the loss yet.

Two rooms

There is a small section of two rooms in the house that was set on fire. Fortunately, this was not fully gutted. I live in that section now” Dissanayake said.

Like other politicians, Dissanayake has accused the Police of not doing enough to prevent the violence on May 9. “I was not singled out in this attack. It was carried out by one group in the Anuradhapura district. They had come in a procession and first attacked the house of Prof. Channa Jayasumama and then continued to the homes of others.

I believe it was carried out by a group that was involved in the citizen’s struggle who is attempting to gain power through it. Another leaderless group also came with them but merely watched the destruction from the road. In other words those who are good and bad who engaged in the citizen’s struggle were behind this incident” he said.

Several suspects have been arrested by the Police and have been bailed out since. Dissanayake says this was the first time he faced an incident such as this during his 22- year-old political career.

Name: Duminda Dissanayake
Date of Birth: 28.03.1979
Place of Birth: Anuradhapura
Schools attended: Walisingha Harischandra College, Anuradhapura Central College, Royal College Colombo
Qualifications: Diploma holder in Information Technology

Political milestones
First elected as a Member of Parliament-2000
Chairman of Sri Lanka Freedom Party Youth Organisation
General Secretary of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party
National Organiser of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party
Deputy Minister of Skills Development, Vocational  Technical Education
Minister of Petroleum Resources
Cabinet Minister for Ports and Aviation Services
Deputy Minister of Posts and Telecommunications
Deputy Minister of Youth Affairs and Skills Development
Cabinet Minister of Education Services
Cabinet Minister of Agriculture
Cabinet Minister for Irrigation and Agriculture
Cabinet Minister of Agriculture
Minister of Waterways and Disaster Management
Minister of Youth Affairs
Minister of State for Renewable Energy

“Not even my father faced such an incident. We have witnessed hartals, revolts and protests before but no one has seen such an organised attack against politicians in this country’s history. Our supporters as well as others in the Anuradhapura district were saddened by these events.

That is because though we supported one political party our family was friendly with all. We only engaged in politics during the election period. If not we all co-existed and got along well. I am not upset with anyone who was involved in this incident. A month after my house was destroyed I held the Poson Dansala in the same location as I usually did for the past nine years. I did not want to stop it just because my house was destroyed.


Likewise I wanted to give the message that this incident will not change my political career, my policies, and the dignity, honour or love for my father and my family earned from the people. Those who took part in the attack, those who supported it and even those who watched as it happened came to this dansala. I hope they realise their mistake even then” he said.

Dissanayake is the oldest son of veteran politician, former North Western Province Chief Minister, Anuradhapura district MP and former Minister of Social Services Berty Premalal Dissanayake. His mother is Jayani Dissnayake, who was a teacher by profession. Duminda Dissanayake, who was educated at Walisinghe Harischandra College, Anuradhapura Central College and Royal College Colombo, was exposed to politics at a young age.

“My father became an MP when I was ten years old. I always saw my house as a place people gathered and a place that helped people. As a youngster I was also keen to become a politician and help poor people. That is why I entered Parliament at the age of 21 in 2000 as the youngest MP to be elected. I received the most number of preferential votes in the Anuradhapura district. The previous record for the same was held by Mahinda Rajapaksa. He entered Parliament at the age of 24. No one has been able to break the record set by me since.” he said.

In the years since he has held many important Government positions including Cabinet and non Cabinet posts.

He says he did not become disheartened due to the events on May 9. “In a way I see good in what happened. Though some political parties speak of policies their truth and need to somehow come into power was revealed as a result of this. This was carried out by a group who is unable to secure power through the votes of the people. They claimed everyone other than themselves are thieves but their political aims were laid bare in this incident.

It also gave the current generation a chance to revisit the past of this group as they were always involved in such destructive acts even back then to gain power. This incident will not hamper my journey.

Political journey

My father and I did not engage in politics for our benefit. The house will be rebuilt. But no one can stop my political journey” he said.

He also shared his future political plans during the interview. “We cannot think of personal political journeys at a time when the country is facing an economic crisis. The Sri Lanka Freedom Party has ruled the country for the most number of years in the post independence era.

Therefore, we all have a responsibility towards the country. There is no point in analysing as to who must be blamed for all this. Everyone must now come together as it will even foster international trust about the country. That is why we proposed an all-party Government to be formed. But though some political parties have failed to understand this need and I believe the youth will get together to lead the country’s revival efforts” he said.