The final act
The autopsy revealed that death was due to sever internal and external bleeding to all parts of the body, consisting of bruises, similarly to that of poles or sticks, on a severely emaciated person, wracked by kidney and liver disease caused by a lifetime of excessive alcohol intake. This was further hastened due to his inebriated state when the blows to his body were suffered, where he could not defend himself.
Thus ended the life of Dasa Mama (as in Dasanayake), who was Rajah and his siblings’ (Loku Nanda, Lika, Anoma, Ranji, and Kumara) first cousin, as their father and Dasa’s mother were brother and sister. So he was related by blood to 80% of the people in the village.
Dasa’s life was one of tragedy. His wife had left him 30 years ago, due to his excessive drinking, where she took her two children and went to live in Divulankadawala. He has been of no fixed abode since, sleeping rough at relatives homes, affectionately known as the village drunk, being inebriated every day from Moonshine, likely obtained from 10th Culvet Village (Dahaya Bokkuwa) where his final few days were spent in a home, where the woman and her daughter had taken pity on this poor man and had fed and taken care of him, as he had been given at most a year or two to live by doctors, and so did not have to die such a violent death, which was merely hastened by the murder.
He was a harmless person who troubled no one, and people in the village, many of whom are relatives, merely took pity on his life and fed him as they realized he was beyond repair! They tolerated his antics and took him at face value, until this tragedy lead many to ask why?
The murder of Dasa, the eldest, who has three male younger brothers, who live in the village, with their families and a younger sister who lives in a neighboring village, resulted in an outpouring of grief, where the funeral was held at his brother Premaratne’s house. This brother is in the Police Force attached to Minneriya and a respected person. I have still been unable to confirm that his ex-wife and his two children attended his final rights that were conducted on January 31st 2018 at the local village burial ground, the “Kanatte” that villages in such outposts call the final resting place.
I come to this village to spend a week every month. I have been here now for nearly 18 years, and of that I have been a very frequent visitor for 14 of them, and have built and lived in my house by the village tank for 11 of these years.
In a sense though physically I am at the edge of the village today, it was once the center of the village in the geographical sense, where the people lived, but later moved when the road and power supply was given abandoning the traditional village to the jungle, which was the scene when I purchased the property.
It is a purana (as in ancient) gama, and along with Rotawewa was one of the few villages in existence before the British came and discovered the ruins of Polonnaruwa and DS Senanayake and his band of Civil Servants restored the ancient tanks and began the Colonisation Schemes to settle people from other parts of the Country in irrigated agricultural land in order to provide Sri Lanka with its Rice Crop and become self-sufficient in Paddy Production.
Ratmale is a village known as a farming village, while the adjoining village of Rotawewa, is known as a hunter gatherer village, where the people traditionally used to go into the forest, hunt and sell meat and produce such as bees honey and other medicinal herbs from the forest including yams and unusual edible delights. It is in this light that Dasa acted more as a hunter, where he made a living killing small animals, with his dogs, and Thalagoya, or land monitors were killed and sold to satisfy his daily Moonshine Fix.
Gamini, (aka Soththaya) around 42 years old and Nalaka around 24 years, from time to time worked at carpentry in Gamini’s wood shed. They both made two Neem Beds for my thatched guest room here. I then commissioned them to make me a dining table, but the Rs10,000 which was advanced to buy the wood, was instead used to drink themselves silly that day nearly a year ago now.
Gamini earned his living in his wood shed making items and selling to support his no-working wife and 4 children of school going age. Nalaka on the other hand with an employed Elder brother was the prodigal son, always getting into tiffs for drinking who used to go for work but return after a month, and repeat this cycle on an inconsistent basis. He was a floater and a scoundrel.
The night of the Murder
Gamini and Nalaka had gone in their motorbike to house that Dasa was staying in, and had obtained their Moonshine from nearby and had been drinking there, before they all left to go to Gamini’s house at the other end of Ratmale, and had continued until they were plastered.
In an inebriated state, they found a reason to argue, and also in that state, some nonsensical notion would have triggered a flare. This temper resulted in the older man, Dasa who was sickly, 62+ unable to defend himself from the blows of a two wooden poles used by the other two to beat him and they had all three eventually fallen on the ground quite oblivious to what they had done.
To Gamini’s wife, who was in the house and quite used to fighting in the house between drunkards, thought they were sleeping in a drunken stupor, as all was now quiet, and had gone to sleep elsewhere in her room.
When the moonshine wears off at 4am and Gamini wakes up and sees Dasa in a pool of blood DEAD, he panics. He wakes Nalaka up, and they asses what to do, and they decide to quickly drag the body to the roadside, outside their house and leave it there. They then come into the house and clean the blood stains and other evidence from the previous night!
In the morning when the body is discovered on the road, all hell brakes loose, and the Police are called to investigate. Dasa after all is a brother of a police office who is attached to the Minneriya Police Force.
The body is sent for a post mortem to determine the cause of death. The principle suspect Gamini is apprehended and taken to the police, and while it was known who he was with, Nalaka was absconding and on the 31st his mother was able to turn him in to the police as he was hiding in the forest near his home and his mother was able to convince him that the best course of action was to surrender.
This mother works out of the village in a Garment Factory and lives there, and so now has to shut her home and leave for work, while her son is incarcerated on remand, a suspect in a murder trial. Gamini’s wife, is in a worse situation as the breadwinner of the family is in remand, while has to worry about providing for her four young children, a task, she presently knows not how. In this story it is the four innocent children of the murderer who really suffer!
SO SAY THE VILLAGE GOSSIP POST FUNERAL!
A later version of the incident coming to light after the funeral gleaned from conversations with villagers. after dark on January 31st
In a small isolated village such as this relationships are incestuous, and I learned that the principal suspect Gamini and the victim are related, fairly closely but are not taken into account as the common ancestor is three generations up.
Secondly, the two suspects may have had a grudge, or some reason to attack the victim. They apparently went to where the victim was sleeping in his drunken stupor, saying he should not be staying in a Rhodiya House, as the people settled in the Dahaya Bokkuwa are low caste people settled by a politician about 20 years ago. They have then dragged the victim and brought to the prime suspect’s house where some altercation occurred. I am told from good authority the victim though prone to profanity in his drunken state, would not harm a woman in any way inappropriately, though the accused is supposedly saying he had insinuated something about the accused, adolescent, sixteen something daughter, just to save his soul maybe!
Further that he was knowingly beaten up, as the pole used to hit was cut from a tree that night. SO it was an intention and therefore pre-meditated, with the alcohol used to get confidence to carry out the crime. There is also the saying that the victim’s wife has been lying to protect her husband from the worst excesses, and so had heard the beating and should have shouted to the neighborhood to alert them to the beating before it got out of hand.
Further, when a man is known to have succumbed to injuries, the suspect suddenly loses all his drunken stupor like a shot, once the gravity of the crime sinks in and then he thinks of how to destroy all evidence asap.
The police say that blood was in the bike that brought the victim to the suspect’s house and further that once the victim was dead the wife helped move the body to the road where it was discovered.
Another person vouched that a three wheeler was called at some time in the morning pre-dawn, saying they had an emergency to take to the hospital and when the driver came and saw the victim was already dead did not want to have anything to do with it and left the scene without further ado.
Another story is that the suspect was hastily scouting the whole area for a place to dump the body, but could not find one and so resorted to the final place.
In the final case the crucial evidence will be of the pre-meditated nature of the crime and the second suspect may be crucial in either agreeing to or denying to save his soul from a life sentence.
The marks on the victim are not consistent with mere alcohol induced beating but harder injuries that are consistent with intent to kill while beating, due to the severity of the injury as reported in the post mortem.
The complicity of the wife and his mother both of whom were at home and would have known the altercation and did nothing to alert the neighbors who are within shouting distance could be accused of not doing enough to save the victim’s life.
The village is saying that the accused is a track eight person that is a person who lives in that area of Medirigiriya, which is notorious for senseless violence and has it in his genes inherited from that side of his family!
Until the finger prints are examined on the murder weapon, they will not be able to say how much of the first accused and how much of the second accused is on the pole. If there is a lot of the second accused, then he is not just an accessory, but as guilty as the first accused to the gravity of the crime.
The village is angry today, and the suspect’s family have been asked to lock their doors and wait inside, as they believe the wife could have prevented this level of violence and did nothing!
In the same vein they are very sympathetic to the four little children, one adolescent who had no part to play in this, who were said to be going hungry today, and the possibility of them being taken into care is very real, with no one willing to take responsibility for their upkeep and schooling.
How ironic then is the arrival of the victim’s ex-wife and two children, now married and with their own families, coming to the father’s funeral, not having seen him in the living for at least 25 years since the wife left him, with her children, and only living a few KM away!
Apparently the second suspect was all along in his home, but no one came looking, so where is the police in all this to apprehend him, has he in fact given himself in, to save his soul, otherwise his direct complicity is in doubt?
SO SAY THE VILLAGE GOSSIP POST FUNERAL!
Is this how Gamini, who diddled me out of the Rs10,000 and not produced a table or returned my money, got his comeuppance? Fortunately when he asked more money to make the table as an advance I declined, as I knew if I had given, a similar event, where he would have merely used the money for alcohol would have resulted, and I was merely enabling his alcoholic craving!
How long will Nalaka the mother’s pet, who did nothing creditworthy and who did nothing but satisfy his alcohol craving, as his modus operandi in life, be stuck in jail? If you want to know the village view point as he was a near do well, it will be as well if he is locked up for life as he is no use to anyone.
Will the two incarcerated prisoners be able to satisfy their craving in jail as they are hardly likely to get bail at any price, due to the second degree murder rap they are likely to face?
WE have three people, all alcoholics who satisfy their moonshine supplier as their source of inebriation, out of the market, one in death and the others in jail.
If this is not a reason to address the scourge of alcohol addiction head on, what is? This is a scourge killing our society fast. Why cant our leaders address the illegal moonshine trade and alcohol addiction as a matter of priority, as increasing the price of arrack does nothing to reduce the problem as moonshine a more deadly concoction takes over, with the double negative of lower State Revenue from Alcohol taxes? Why are our leaders so deaf to address the problems instead of tinkering with banning the purchase of alcohol by women? The latter is a laughable joke, we have to be embarrassed by our shameless leaders who don’t seem to get it that they are the butt end of ridicule the world over.
The job of leaders is to prioritize action that will have the most effect on improving the quality of life of the people they are leading, that is all citizens of Sri Lanka. They should not waste their time on expensive local govt. elections, that only double the number of elected politicians, don't give local worthies the chance to improve their community and force people to vote on party lines that bear no relationship whatsoever to resolving problems and politicians holding meetings all over the country, that do not address the real problems of the people, but imaginary problems created by the politicians themselves which they maybe able to solve by fooling the public into a sense of comfort without really tackling the serious issues of society!
The true example that happened in the past 48 hours shows how important a problem that is devastating every village, all 15,000 of them up and down the Country and no one seems to realize what a social cost it is.