|Former Minister of Education, National Security, Trade and Agriculture|
|Member of the Sri Lankan Parliament
|Born||November 26, 1936
|Died||23 April 1993
Colombo, Sri Lanka
|Political party||Democratic United National Front|
|United National Party|
|Spouse(s)||Srimani Anoma Athulathmudali|
|Alma mater||Harvard University
Jesus College, Oxford
Royal College, Colombo
St. John's College Panadura
|Profession||Barrister, University lecturer|
Lalith William Samarasekera Athulathmudali (Sinhala:ලලිත් ඇතුලත්මුදලි), PC (November 26, 1936 – April 23, 1993) (known as Lalith Athulathmudali) was a Sri Lankan politician of the United National Party and former Cabinet Minister of Trade, National Security, Agriculture, Education and deputy minister of defence.
Early life and teaching career
Born to a family of Lawyers, his father was a Member of the State Council of Ceylon. Athulathmudali was educated at St. John's College Panadura before moving to Royal College Colombo where he won the Steward Prize. He then went on to read Jurisprudence at Jesus College, University of Oxford from 1955, President of the Oxford Union in 1958 and won the Lord Sanky Prize. He was the first Sri Lankan to be elected as the President of the Oxford Union. Thereafter he became a Barrister at Grays Inn, and went on to gain a Law Degree from the Harvard University on scholarship.
After that he went to teach law as a lecturer at the University of Singapore, the Hebrew University in Israel, the University of Edinburgh and the University of Allahabad, and finally became a lecturer in Jurisprudence in the Ceylon Law College. In 1985 he was appointed a President's Counsel.
Lalith Athulathmudali was elected to Parliament in 1977 and went on to become the Deputy Minister of Defence and Minister of National Security under President J.R. Jayewardene during the 1980s. During this time, he organized several offensives against territories held by the LTTE including Vadamarachchi Operation. He was seriously injured in an attack inside the Parliament complex in 1987. Upon Jayewardene's retirement in 1988, Athulathmudali tried to obtain the UNP's nomination for the presidential election, but was defeated by Ranasinghe Premadasa who went on to win the presidency.
Premadasa demoted Athulathmudali to Minister of Agriculture, then Minister of Education. He also tried to have Athulathmudali removed from his UNP party positions. He was accused by Premadasa as being one of the cabinet ministers behind the Burning of Jaffna library in 1981. Athulathmudali became disenchanted with Premadasa's leadership.
Athulathmudali and several UNP MPs brought forth a motion to impeach Premadasa. When that failed, he was expelled from the UNP, and began forming a new party, the Democratic United National Front. He announced his candidacy for the presidency, but was assassinated by a gunman on April 23, 1993 after an election rally . Initially, the government blamed the LTTE and produced the body of a Tamil youth named Ragunathan was found near the scene of the shooting the following day. He had apparently died from taking a cyanide capsule. However, these claims were later proved to be false.
A Presidential Commission carried out by the Sri Lankan Government concluded that Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa was directly responsible for the assassination. It also concluded that the Tamil youth Ragunathan, was murdered by the same people who killed Athulathmudali, by forcibly administering him with cyanide.
Athulathmudali is considered as one of the most distinguished Sri Lankan statesmen in recent history. He is still remembered by many in Sri Lanka as a gentlemen and as one of the few well educated politicians of that era. In his honor a staue and memorial has been erected in Colombo. His contribution to the education of the country is eminence, the Mahapola Fund he established has greatly contributed to the development of higher education and provides scholarships for needy students annually. The Lalith Athulathmudali Auditorium at the Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology and the Lalith Athulathmudali Memorial Prize which is one of the prestigious prizes awarded annually at Royal College, Colombo (his alma mater) (awarded for the Most Outstanding Royalist (Student of Royal College) of the Year) are named in his honor.
- Assassination of Lalith Athulathmudali
- List of political families in Sri Lanka
- Notable assassinations of the Sri Lankan Civil War
- Sri Lankan Civil War
- Ranasinghe Premadasa
- "Old Members' Notes and News". Jesus College Record: 72–3. 1993/4.
- Lalith Athulathmudali - a great son of Lanka
- SRI LANKA: THE UNTOLD STORY Chapter 58: Premadasa indicted
- The Athulathmudali Ancestry
- Article for Lalith Athulathmudali on Sadaharita
- Official Website of United National Party
- Sri Lanka: the Untold Story
- Obituary at Liberal International
- Lalith Athulathmudali epitome of a pragmatic politician
- He shared his views but never interfered in military matters
- Athulathmudali memorial lecture by Anura Banadaranaike
- We must not give up resolve to fight the LTTE’
- Time to revisit Athulathmudali approach
- Lalith Athulathmudali in Sinhala
- Lalith Athulathmudali in Sinhala