Vijaya Kumaranatunga, born in 1945, was one of the most popular movie actors of Sri Lanka and a politician, who was assassinated in 1988.
In 1978, Vijaya Kumaratunga married Chandrika Bandaranike, the daughter of Sri Lanka’s famous former Prime Minister, S.W.R.D. Bandaranike. Chandrika Bandaranaike-Kumaratunga later on became Sri Lanka’s first female executive president.
Vijaya Kumaratunga performed in 114 film altogether, his first lead role was in the “Hanthane Kathawa”. In 1980, he was one of the two main male characters in the ambitious film Baddegama, the plot of which was the famous novel “Village in the Jungle”, written by the then colonial administrator Leonard Woolf, who after his return from Ceylon married Virginia Stephen, from then on known as Virginia Woolf. Kumaratunga also played in one English and one Tamil film. Kumaratunga was awarded posthumously as the best actor for his role in “Kedapathaka Chaya”.
Vijaya Kumaratunga started his political life as a member of the Trotzkyist LSSP (Lanka Sama Samaja Party). He later joined the moderate socialist SLFP (Sri Lanka Freedom Party) of the Bandaranikes.
In 1982, Kumaratunga was imprisoned, without being charges, under the emergency regulations by President Jayawardena (UNP) for allegedly being a "Naxalite". Naxalites are Maoist rebels in central India not active in Sri Lanka. Later in, Kumaratunga founded the SLMP (Sri Lanka Mahajana Party), which propagated an end of the civil war by peaceful means.
In 1988, the SLMP came to an agreement with other left-wing parties. Kumaratunga was killed by a shot in his head by Lionel Ranasinghe alias Gamini, only a few day before new “United Socialist Alliance” was officially established, the USA agreement was signed by the party leader at Kumaratunga’s funeral, which was an official state funeral, though he had never been a minister. Kumaratunga's funeral attracted the largest number of people for such a ceremony that has ever been seen in Sri Lanka. The murder case remains unsolved. The confessing Gamini blamed the military arm of the JVP for ordering the assasination, whereas a much later presidential commission claimed that the then president Jayawardane and other high-ranking UNP officials were behind that assassination.
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