"Sunday Leader" Editor Lasantha Wickrematunga shot and hacked to death by Motor Cyclists in civils
Lasantha Wickrematunga, the courageous and Independent editor of the English weekly “The Sunday Leader” was shot and hacked to death by gunmen in civilian garb riding motor cycles.
The shocking incident occurred near the Bakery junction at the land side end of Temple road in Attidiya.
Fifty year old Wickrematunga was first taken to Kalubowila general hospital where emergency surgery was done.
Thereafter he was to be taken to the National Hospital where additional surgery was required.
Since his situation was pronounced as extremely critical he was not moved to the national hospital. Instead doctors at Kalubowila continued to attend to him.Lasantha had lost a lot of blood. His head injuries were serious.
After persistent efforts for more than four hours to save him , finally Lasantha succumbed to his injuries.
Lasantha was on his way to work in the morning when the incident took place at about 9. 15 am.
As was his usual routine Wickrematunga was driving his own car to work alone.
He had observed men on two motor cycles trailing him in a suspicious manner. Lasantha had then telephoned some friends on his cellular and told them of the suspicious motor cyclists following his vehicle.
Initial reports said there were two persons on each motor cycle
When he neared Bakery junction which was very close to his office, the motor cyclists had got ahead of his vehicle and cut across thus blocking him.
Even as Lasantha was forced to brake, one assassin jumped down and ran to the car and shot from the front shattering the windscreen with bullets hitting Lasantha’s chest
Another person got down from the pillion and came up to him by the side and opened the door and began hacking Lasantha with a sabre.He then took out a gun and began firing at point blank range at his ear and head.
The unarmed Wickrematunga was shot in cold blood by cowardly assassins in the chest, ear and head,
He also received many cuts to his body.
The assassins wearing civils then got on to their vehicles and sped away.
All this happened in broad daylight on a busy road with scores of people including Policemen watching.
Lasantha bleeding profusely was rushed to Kalubowila hospital and from there he was to be taken to the Borella national hospital.
But he was not taken there because he could not be moved because of his condition
Large crowds gathered at the Hospital premises.
Finally the end came.
He never gained consciousness.
The fearless editor was noted for his courage and forthrightness in speaking truth to power.
The newspaper was boldly critical of the Government and defence apparatus and also published regular exposures of the corruption, nepotism, racism and misgovernace of the Rajapakse regime
The newspaper was also critical of the Government’s warmongering and advocated a negotiated settlement to the ethnic crisis.
These viewpoints were thorns in the flesh of the government.
There were many incidents of friction with the government including an incident where President Rajapakse threatened Wickrematunga in abusive language on the telephone
On one occasion the government ordered his arrest but could not go ahead due to public protest
The Sunday Leader also criticised Army Commander Sarath Fonseka for his blatantly racist comments.
Currently a legal case is pending in courts against Wickrematunga as defence secretary Gota Rajapakse had filed action for an article alleging corruption in purchase of aircraft
Despite all the threats and danger to his life Lasantha Wickrematunga continued to write and edit fearlessly living up to the motto of his newspaper “Unafraid and un bowed”
He fought to the last never bowing or compromising with the racist Rajapakse regime
We his friends and colleagues salute him.
Lasantha co - founded “The Sunday Leader” in 1994
The shocking and brutal assassination t resulted in severe condemnation of the Government as it was crystal clear as to who was responsible
There seemed to be little doubt in the minds of most people that the “terror Squad” attached to the Intelligence unit of an armed force was responsible
The cowardly elements responsible for several attacks on media personnel and institutions was held responsible his death
Hundreds of people gathering at the Hospital were praying for Lasantha Wickrematunga as he was fighting his last battle.
We at “Transcurrents. Com” join those souls in praying for Lasantha Wickrematunga
We also extend our condolences and sympathies to his family members.
The fourth estate has lost one of her most brave sons.
The media world and Sri Lanka have suffered an irredeemable loss.
(Thank you: Transcurrents News)