S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike is assassinated by a Buddhist monk. State of emergency imposed. The founder of the Eksath Bhikku Peramua, Mapitigama Buddharakkita, is later accused of leading the conspiracy.
On 14 October 1959, Mapitigama Buddharakkita, chief priest of the Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara, is arrested along with two other prominent supporters of Bandaranaike’s party.
After a prolonged trial that lasted until May 1961, Buddharakkita and Somarama are sentenced to death, the former’s sentence later commuted to life imprisonment by the Court of Appeal. On 6 July 1962, Somarama was hanged.
Keesings Contemporary Archives; Witness to History: A Journalist’s Memoirs (1930- 2004), S. Sivanayagam, 2005.
Extract from Witness to History: A Journalist’s Memoirs (1930- 2004)
“The country had seen the first of many political assassinations that were to follow in later years. The prime minister was 60 when he was killed. If thew assassination of a prime minister was enough to send shock waves around the country, the identity of the assassin produced gasps of disbelief among the Sinhalese buddhists. As was to be expected rumour mongers in the city had spread a story that it was a Tamil who had shot the prime minister. Fortunately for the Tamil people, the government acted promptly in revealing the true identity of the assassin, which credit must go again to Governor General Sir Oliver who took quick command of the situation. …
“Somarama Thero was identified as the assassin. He was a lecturer in the College of Indigenous Medicine and had sought an interview with the prime minister at his private residence. The prime minister as was his practice in receiving members of the Buddhist clergy bent low in obeisance and the man in yellow robes responded by firing four shots from a revolver he pulled out form his robes.” S. Sivanayagam, 2005.