Kadugannawa postal bomb tragedy | Sunday Observer

Kadugannawa postal bomb tragedy

28 November, 2021

This tragedy has become the first time in the history of Sri Lanka that a bomb was mailed as a parcel through post office and a murder was committed. This event took place in 1948, the year Sri Lanka gained independence from British rule. It clearly reflects the deficiency of the national security of the country at that time to carry out such an operation. Thirty years of LTTE war or JVP riots or any other racist civil war were not around at this time and it is a miracle that a civilian knew the technology of bomb-making.

The deceased was identified as S M Samarasinghe, a 16-year-old schoolboy. He lived with his father from his childhood until 1944 in the village of Kabbagamuwa in the Kegalle District. His father later admitted him to Dharmaraja College, Kandy. To facilitate his schooling, he was first boarded at a dispensary owned by a Gampaha Vedarala in King’s Street, Kandy, and later abandoned the boarding house and returned to the accused’s house in 1945 on the road from Kandy to Trincomalee. The accused was employed as a tailor and had been running his business in the front part of his house. His name was Jayawardena and he was an unmarried adult male.

Shop for accommodation

The deceased had lived in the house with the accused until the beginning of 1947 and after that had left the place and gone to school staying at a shop owned by Alwis Appuhamy in Buvaliyadde, Kandy. At the request of the deceased, one family friend, Kodikara found the shop for accommodation.

According to the testimony of Kodikara and Alwis Appuhamy, after the deceased left the accused’s boarding house, the accused came from time to time and tried desperately to bring him back, but when that failed, he threatened them on several occasions. The testimony of two witnesses in the case, Simon and Jayasinghe, also revealed that the accused had made such threats.

In April 1946, while the deceased was on school vacation, the accused sent him a letter stating the following: “Do you mean to board in another place this term? Do you not consider about college boarding? If you do not like it too, I will find another place for you. I would not hesitate to buy or rent another place for you. How can I without your friendship in the future? Otherwise, I have nothing to console myself. “

Somehow this article shows that the accused had an affection towards the deceased in his heart. Kodikara has further stated in his testimony that the accused had come three days after the date on which the deceased had left the boarding house and had told Kodikara as follows.

“This boy was living with me. I fed him, dressed him, and did everything for him. He has left my place having removed a ring of mine. He’s a very bad boy. Please get him out of the place where he is boarded at present and send him back to me “.

Kodikara later told the deceased about the accused’s request but he refused to return. The accused again came to Kodikara two days later that day and inquired into the matter. In response, the deceased said he did not agree to return. On that day, the accused again asked Kodikara to reconsider his request. When the accused went to see him for the third time and asked him again, he said that the deceased did not want to come back and would not bother him again. At that moment, the accused had taken a knife hidden in his waist and had said the following to Kodikara.

“If I can not destroy him with anything, I will destroy him with this.”

Alwis Appuhamy, the owner of the shop, testified that the accused came to him about six days after the day the deceased arrived at his place to board and made the following request.

“This boy got angry with me and he came to this place. Please do not keep him in your house. Send him back to me.” A few days later, the accused came back in several times and begged him to send the boy. At one point, the accused came and threatened Alwis,

“I have already told you on two occasions not to keep that lad. If you continue to keep that lad you will get in trouble too. If that lad does not come back to me I will kill that lad.”

Good omen

Alwis later became alarmed and told Kodikara to take the boy away immediately. Shortly afterward, the elder brother of the deceased, Podi Nilame, with the help of Jayasinghe who was the Assistant Manager at Tarzan Office, Kadugannawa at that time, stopped him at this office on March 3, 1947.

The accused had also come to this place and told Jayasinghe to send the deceased to his house. At that point, Jayasinghe asked, “Why do you want him?” In response, the accused said, “My business is down. The boy is a good omen to be in my house. He has a pleasant face and a good look. I’m glad he’s in the store.”

Thus, the accused continued to follow the deceased and went to every boarding house where he went to stay, making various threats and requests from the owners of the boarding house to send the child back to him. However, on March 24, the accused met the deceased on the road, and at that time the accused assaulted him. Later, his elder brother Podi Nilame went to the house of the accused and asked him why he had beaten his little brother. At the time, the accused said he was beaten because he continued to refuse to come to live with me.

On March 29, police filed a case in the Magistrate’s Court alleging assault on the accused. The accused had visited Podi Nilame’s house in Kegalle four times and asked him to withdraw the case, but Podi Nilame vehemently denied it. The accused then told him, “Then you all are going to get in trouble.” However, the court heard the case on August 14, 1947, and convicted the accused, and imposed a fine of Rs. 5.00.

However, the accused had paid Rs. 500.00 to a person named Karunaratne and ordered him to break the leg or arm of the deceased, as evidenced by the evidence given by Karunaratne. According to the testimony of the father of the deceased, after the above case’s trial, the accused came to the deceased and said, “Look what I am doing to you.”

Subsequently, after this assault case, the accused’s affection and intimacy with the deceased turned into hatred. According to the testimony of a man named Simon, about three months before the tragedy of the parcel bomb blast, the accused had threatened to destroy the deceased more than a hundred times.

The accused also told Simon that he knew how to make a bomb, that he had tested a bomb, that he will kill this boy with a bomb, and that he will send bombs to several others. Simon later told Piyadasa, who worked as the accused’s cook, “This guy keeps doing this. He might be allowed his motive to action. So if the boy gets a parcel, tell him not to open it.” But Piyadasa had not been called to testify. But since he was also a young man about the same age as the deceased, it is safe to assume that the message was perhaps conveyed to the deceased.


Podi Nilame’s testimony shows that he had warned the deceased and his other siblings not to open any parcel if they received an unknown. He also received a parcel of bombs but did not open it.

According to the testimony of a shop owner named Premadasa, the accused had come to his shop about two weeks before the tragedy and asked to buy 10 dynamite tubes and 20 military type detonators.

On January 20, 1948, David Perera and Majeed met the accused at a fuel station, where he sarcastically asked, “Ah, did you go and see your friend (the deceased)?” At the time, the accused said, “I have not been able to go recently but I have sent him a gift.”

The gift was a box made out of dynamite, detonators, copper wire, batteries, lead, filaments, and cardboard and mailed from the Havelock Town Post Office on January 20th, 1948. When the box was opened and pulled the wire marked “pull” on the label caught fire and the filament ignited, setting off the detonator and ammunition, causing the dynamite to explode. Government analyst Chanmugan further elaborated on this process in his testimony.

The five bombs were manufactured by the accused and were found in the possession of the deceased in Kadugannawa, his elder brother Podi Nilame in Udugoda, his sister Seneviratne who worked as a teacher in Yatagoda school in Nelundeniya, and his cousin Dissanayake in Dalpathadeniya, Ambanpitiya. And the fifth bomb was kept in the shop belonging to Ukku Banda in Udugoda by two well dressed persons. The testimony of Ukku Banda was supported by the testimony of William Sinho, the driver of the bus in which the two men were traveling.

Ukku Banda had no connection or acquaintance with the deceased. It is speculated that the accused may have planted a bomb there with the intention that he would be the accused in this case by placing a bomb in it. At the time of the arrest, the police had also found copper wire hooks similar to the ones found in the bombs.

Unfortunately, S M. Samarasinghe, the 16-year-old schoolboy, passed away on January 21, 1948, by opening the bomb sent to him due to the hatred caused by the loss of unlimited affection.

After examining all the circumstantial evidence, a jury under the supervision of the Judge of the High Court, after hearing the case accused was found guilty of murder under Section 296 of the Penal Code. After the conviction, he appealed to the higher court but the appeal was dismissed and affirmed the judgment of the High Court.