|Corporal Gamini Kularatne †|
Hero of the Elephant Pass Siege, 1991
4 September 1966|
Hasalaka, Sri Lanka
|Died||14 July 1991
Elephant Pass, Sri Lanka
|Allegiance||Sri Lanka Army|
|Years of service||1987-1991|
|Unit||Sixth Battalion, Sri Lanka Sinha Regiment|
|Battles/wars||Sri Lankan civil war|
|Awards||Parama Weera Vibhushanaya|
Gamini Kularatne PWV, SLSR (S/34553) (Sinhala: ගාමිණී කුලරත්න; 4 September 1966 – 14 July 1991) (commonly known as Hasalaka Gamini or Hasalaka Hero) was a Sri Lankan soldier. He was the first recipient of the Parama Weera Vibhushanaya, the highest award for gallantry awarded by the Sri Lanka Army.
Gamini Kularatne was the second son of a family of four brothers and a sister. He obtained his primary education at Ranasinghe Premadasa Madhya Maha Vidyalaya at Hasalaka (farming hamlet in the salubrious Kandy District of Sri Lanka). He was a survivor of the Aranthalawa Massacre on 2 June 1987 as Mahiyangane Dhammajothi Thero. After seeing the brutality of the Tiger terrorist massacre he pleaded with the chief Thero and left robes to join the Sri Lanka Army on 27 August 1987 with the blessings of his father S.G Babanis and mother S.G Juliet.
On the night of 10 July 1991 over 5000 LTTE cadres surrounded the 600 strong army garrison located at Elephant Pass,Pass was known as the gateway to the northern Jaffna Peninsula. Enlisted to the Sri Lankan Army Sinha Regiment Sixth Battalion as a Rifleman, Lance Corporal Gamini Kularatne, along with the rest of his regiment, was tasked with watching for possible LTTE infiltrators.
As dusk fell the LTTE cadres launched several human wave attacks. Flanked by hundreds of their armed cadres, they surrounded the Army's fortifications. But the sight of a hitherto unknown armored bulldozer looking like a huge tank sent shock waves among soldiers at all sentry points as the huge bulldozer tank was a mystery to all on guard.
Equipped with a machine gun atop it and containing a haul of arms and ammunitions inside it rumbled towards the southern entrance of the camp and Lance Corporal Kularatne in his pensive mood thought this new rolling weapon would definitely be able to swarm the garrison within seconds taking a heavy toll of his fellowmen. Above all the fall of Elephant Pass to the enemy would be catastrophic and counterproductive at national level, and there was hardly any time to waste, Kularatne pondered.
Although the LTTE began pounding the Army camp with heavy mortars and weapons to the cries of injured and dying soldiers amidst deafening explosions, all eyes were still centered on the enemy's approaching mysterious bulldozer laden with sophisticated weapons.
Suddenly Lance Corporal Kularatne, holding two grenades in his hands, dashed out towards the oncoming bulldozer tank, clambered up the tank's ladder and tossed the two grenades inside it, disregarding the numerous injuries he himself had suffered by then from the bullets of LTTE. Within seconds, fiery bursts of fire accompanied by a series of explosions occurred. Lance Corporal Gamini Kularatne was flung to the ground lay motionless.
Thus the siege of Elephant Pass Army Camp was broken and one of the most ferocious battles in Sri Lanka's modern history ended. The camp was finally saved from the LTTE.
Lance Corporal Kularatne's supreme sacrifice, dedicated for the sake of Sri Lanka's territorial integrity and sovereignty was well received with admiration and honor by all segments of masses across the island.
In recognition of his act of gallantry Lance Corporal Gamini Kularatne was promoted to the rank of Corporal posthumously and honored with the award of "Parama Weera Vibhushanaya" on 10 October 1991, the highest gallantry award in Sri Lanka for the first time in the history of Sri Lanka Army.
Later he came to be known as the Hasalaka Weeraya (Hasalaka Hero)
Corporal Gamini Kularatne's valiant action marks a milestone in the annals of military gallantry. No doubt, the nation salutes this valiant soldier as long as they could breathe. He also leaves an indelible memory of patriotism and valor not only in the minds of his own countrymen but also among millions of Sri Lankans whose today is sacrificed for the sake of tomorrow's betterment.
A memorial to Corporal Gamini was later set up in elephant pass with the remains of very bulldozer he destroyed, after the war was over.
- Hasalaka Gamini Kularatne - Supreme Sacrifice
- No one told him - he knew what had to be done: Sunday Times Article
- Sri Lankan Army Website Article
- Created by using Blogspot Article that released under the GNU Free Documentation License
- Army, Sri Lanka. (1st Edition - October 1999). "50 YEARS ON" - 1949-1999, Sri Lanka Army. ISBN 955-8089-02-8