Mystery shrouds National Park
Guard spills the beans at Wasgamuwa:
Wild flowers rustling in the wind is a common sight to visitors at
the Wasgamuwa National Park. It is an abode for elephants, bears and
several species of the bird population.
The national park is located in Matale and Polonnaruwa districts
bordering the Mahaweli and Amban rivers of the Central province. The
park's tranquillity was shattered last month when officers of the
Wasgamuwa National park discovered two corpses lying inside the
Wavulambe circuit bungalow.
The bodies were none other than their two colleagues who went missing
a couple of days ago inside the park. Both men were brutally stabbed and
shot to death and their bodies were dumped inside the circuit bungalow.
The assassins however had left the park without leaving any kind of
The deceased were later identified by the Wasgamuwa National Park
officials. The victims were N.G. Samaranayake (45) the circuit bungalow
keeper, a native of Wellankatuwaga, Elahara. The other victim was the
Game Guard named D.M. Dingiri Banada (52), a native of Puwadeniya
Their bodies with stab wounds were found a few days later by another
Game Guard who accompanied a foreign visitor to the Circuit Bungalow.
The foreigner was to check in to the circuit bungalow that evening to
spend a peaceful evening. But what the Game Guard and the foreigner
witnessed there was a gory scene of two corpses.
The discovery of the bodies of the Circuit Bungalow keeper
Samaranayake and Game Guard Dingiri Banda sent shock waves to people
living in adjacent hamlets of the Wasgamuwa National Park.
Soon the word spread like wild fire, that LTTE cadres had infiltrated
the jungle and had slaughtered the innocent officers. Meanwhile rumour
mongers fuelled speculation that LTTE cadres were responsible for the
massacre. Due to engulfing fear in Wasgamuwa and in the adjacent areas
of Dehiatte-Kande, natives began packing up things and leaving their
villages elsewhere seeking safety.
Due to panic created at the Wasgamuwa National Park, Handungama
police set up a police post at the entrance to the park.
It was just a coincidence that prior to the incident that some
villagers in the area had complained to the Wasgamuwa Game Guards that
they heard a big noise inside the park.
But Game Guard Themiyapala who was on duty that day had refused to
accompany other Game Guards deep into the jungle to investigate the
incident. Strange enough both Samaranayake and Dingiri Banda volunteered
to travel deep into the jungle to investigate what was happening.
The distance between the Wasgamuwa National Park and the Wavulambe
Circuit Bungalow was a distance of 14 kilometers. However when dusk
falls within the park travelling becomes hazardous owing to attacks from
wild beast and due to poachers roaming about the place with firearms.
Game Guards usually avoid confrontation with them due to fear.
To allay fears of natives of Wasgamuwa and Dehiatekandiya and to
arrest the suspects involved in the murder of the bungalow keeper and
the Game Guard, DIG Central Range, Kingsley Ekanayake entrusted the case
to Supdt. of Police Gamini Seneviratne and to the OIC, Special
Investigation Unit,(Central Province) Chief Inspector S.D.M. Farook and
Before long the team got cracking and took in for questioning the
Game Guard Themiyapala who spilled the beans. He revealed that the
Circuit Bungalow keeper Samaranayake and Game Guard Dingiri Banda, had
cultivated a close relationship with some unsavoury characters from
The men were a set of poachers who roamed the Wasgamuwa jungles with
the support of both Samaranayake, Dingiri Banda and other Game Guards.
They brewed illicit liquor, fell illicit timber and hunted in the
Wasgamuwa park with the connivance of Game guards.
By now the detectives had a faint picture of the men they were
looking for. The men who befriended Game Guard Dingiri Banda and
Samaratunga were all from Dehiattekandiya. They often used to visit
Wasagamuwa National Park after crossing the Mahaweli River by boat.
However after the Wasgamuwa National Park murder the men went into
Meanwhile Detective Chief Inspector Farook and his other policemen
disguised as businessmen went to Dehiattekandiya in search of the
They stayed at Dehiattekandiya for two days and after gathering vital
information on their whereabouts took in for questioning the four
suspects viz, R.M. Jayaweera of Hungamalagama, Dehiateekandiya, A.M.
Nimal Karunaratne alias Wedi Chuti, an army deserter, of Hungamalagama,
M.J.S Sampath Kumara of Hungamalagama, and A.M. Sunil Banadra alias
Rahlee of Hungamalagama.
After intense grilling, the suspects confessed about the gruesome
double murder they committed at the Circuit Bungalow.
On the day of the incident Bungalow keeper Samaranayake and the Game
Guard Dingiri Banda had feasted at the Bungalow with the four suspects
who provide them with free illicit booze roasted jungle foul and
It was just a slip of the tongue that led to the murder of both men.
Game Guard Dingiri Banda in his drunken state had bragged about his new
official shot gun being issued to him and cartridges by the state. As
the feast dragged on till late night, the Bungalow keeper and the Game
guard was drunk to their gills. Samaranayake was lying on the ground
near the kitchen floor and Dingiribanda was resting on a bed.
It was at this stage the four men conspired to kill Dingiribanda and
Samaranayake and remove Digiribanda's official gun which was in a steel
cupboard. One of the men armed with a knife approached Dingiri Banda and
slit his throat and stabbed him as well.
Then he went towards Samaratunga and stabbed him several times on the
body. Thereafter using sheer physical force they broke open the steel
cupboard and removed the gun with cartridges.
To make sure the gun was working, Wedi Chutti inserted a cartridge
and fired a shot into the air. The shot gun was perfect he thought. Then
he came back into the room and found Dingiri Banda grasping for breadth.
He then shot him dead and went near Samaratunga and found him struggling
with stab injuries.
Wedi Chutti then shot him dead and finished him off. Thereafter the
gang travelled four miles into the jungle where they buried the gun,
three knives and three empty cartridges.
Detective Inspector Farook and his team later recovered stuff buried
in the thick jungle. Thereafter the four suspects were arrested and
produced before the Dambulla Magistrate who remanded them till
investigations are completed.