V. N. Navaratnam

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This article is about the former MP for Chavakacheri. For the former MP for Kayts, see V. Navaratnam.
V. N. Navaratnam
வ. ந. நவரத்தினம்
V N Navaratnam.jpg
Member of the Ceylonese Parliament
for Chavakachcheri
In office
Preceded by V. Kumaraswamy
Personal details
Born (1929-06-05)5 June 1929
Chavakachcheri, Ceylon
Died 29 January 1991(1991-01-29) (aged 61)
Toronto, Canada
Political party Illankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi
Other political
Tamil United Liberation Front
Spouse(s) Ragupathi Navaratnam
Alma mater Ceylon Law College
Profession Lawyer
Ethnicity Sri Lankan Tamil

Vallipuram Nallathamby Navaratnam (Tamil: வல்லிபுரம் நல்லதம்பி நவரத்தினம்; 5 June 1929 – 29 January 1991) was a Sri Lankan Tamil lawyer, politician and Member of Parliament.

Early life and family[edit]

Navaratnam was born on 5 June 1929 in Chavakachcheri in northern Ceylon.[1][2][3] He was educated at Drieberg Collge, Chavakachcheri and Jaffna Central College.[1][2] After school he joined Ceylon Law College, graduating as an advocate.[1][2]

Navaratnam had three sons (Sri Namachchivaya, Vallipurananda and Sri Shanmugananda) and a daughter (Maitreyi).[1]


Navaratnam was called to the bar in 1954 and practised law in Jaffna, specialising in criminal law.[1][2] He taught at schools for a brief period.[2]

Navaratnam stood as the Illankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi's (Federal Party) candidate in Chavakachcheri at the 1956 parliamentary election. He won the election and entered Parliament.[4] He was re-elected at the March 1960, July 1960, 1965 and 1970 parliamentary elections.[5][6][7][8]

On 5 June 1956 a group of Tamil activists and parliamentarians, including Navaratnam, staged a satyagraha against the Sinhala Only Act on Galle Face Green opposite the Parliament.[9] The satyagrahis were attacked by a Sinhalese mob as the police looked on, and Navaratnam and E. M. V. Naganathan were thrown in the lake.[10][11] Following the 1958 riots ITAK and the Jathika Vimukthi Peramuna (National Liberation Front) were banned.[12] ITAK's leaders, including Navaratnam, were arrested on 4 June 1958 as they left Parliament and imprisoned .[13]

Navaratnam played a leading role in the 1961 satyagraha campaign organised by ITAK.[14][15] Early on the morning of 20 February 1961 a group of 55 to 75 persons staged a satyagraha at the Jaffna Kachcheri in Old Park.[15][16] Among them were ITAK MPs A. Amirthalingam, S. J. V. Chelvanayakam, V. Dharmalingam, V. A. Kandiah, E. M. V. Naganathan, Navaratnam and K. Thurairatnam.[15][16] A large group of policemen arrived in riot gear, wearing helmets and carrying batons and shields.[15][16] The police started removing the protesters by lifting and carrying them away.[15][16] Those who resisted were dragged away.[15][16] Later, as Government Agent M. Srikantha and Superintendent of Police Richard Arndt tried to leave Old Park in a jeep the protesters blocked their way.[15][16] The police reacted with brutality, beating he protesters with batons and pulled them out bodily.[16] Palaniyappan, a young man who had thrown himself in front of the jeep was pulled away by the police and beaten severely with batons.[15][16] Five ITAK MPs were amongst the protesters blocking the jeep. Kandiah was carried out and dumped on the ground, Dharmalingam and Thurairatnam were dragged out by their hands and legs whilst Amirthalingam and Naganathan were baton charged.[15][16] The police also baton charged a crowd of around 5,000 who had gathered to watch the satyagraha.[16]

On 14 May 1972 the ITAK, All Ceylon Tamil Congress, Ceylon Workers' Congress, Eelath Thamilar Otrumai Munnani and All Ceylon Tamil Conference formed the Tamil United Front, later renamed Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF).[17][18][19][20] Following ITAK leader S. J. V. Chelvanayakam's resignation from Parliament in October 1972 Navaratnam became the party's leader in Parliament.[1][2] Navaratnam was one of the TULF's vice presidents.[21] On 21 May 1976 Navaratnam was delivering leaflets along with other leading Tamil politicians (A. Amirthalingam, K. P. Ratnam, M. Sivasithamparam and K. Thurairatnam) when they were all arrested on government orders.[22][23] Sivasithamparam was released but the others were taken to Colombo and tried for sedition.[22] All the defendants were acquitted on 10 February 1977 after a famous trial at bar case in which around 70 leading Tamil lawyers, including S. J. V. Chelvanayakam and G. G. Ponnambalam, acted for the defence.[24][25]

Navaratnam was the TULF's candidate in Chavakachcheri at the 1977 parliamentary election and was re-elected.[26] Navaratnam and all other TULF MPs boycotted Parliament from the middle of 1983 for a number of reasons: they were under pressure from Sri Lankan Tamil militants not to stay in Parliament beyond their normal six-year term; the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution of Sri Lanka required them to swear an oath unconditionally renouncing support for a separate state; and the Black July riots in which up to 3,000 Tamils were killed by Sinhalese mobs. After three months of absence, Navaratnam forfeited his seat in Parliament on 22 October 1983.[27]

Later life[edit]

Navaratnam left Sri Lanka after the Black July riots. He lived in the United Kingdom for a while before moving to Canada.[1] He practised law in all three countries.[1][2] He died on 29 January 1991 after a heart attack.[1][2]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Arumugam, S. (1997). Dictionary of Biography of the Tamils of Ceylon. p. 121. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "V. N. Navaratnam Dies in Toronto" (PDF). Tamil Times X (3): 26. 15 February 1991. ISSN 0266-4488. 
  3. ^ "Directory of Past Members: Navaratnam, Vallipuram Nallathamby". Parliament of Sri Lanka. 
  4. ^ "Result of Parliamentary General Election 1956" (PDF). Department of Elections, Sri Lanka. 
  5. ^ "Result of Parliamentary General Election 1960-03-19" (PDF). Department of Elections, Sri Lanka. 
  6. ^ "Result of Parliamentary General Election 1960-07-20" (PDF). Department of Elections, Sri Lanka. 
  7. ^ "Result of Parliamentary General Election 1965" (PDF). Department of Elections, Sri Lanka. 
  8. ^ "Result of Parliamentary General Election 1970" (PDF). Department of Elections, Sri Lanka. 
  9. ^ Wilson, A. Jeyaratnam (1994). S. J. V. Chelvanayakam and the Crisis of Sri Lankan Tamil Nationalism, 1947–1977: a Political Biography. University of Hawaii Press. p. 80. 
  10. ^ Jeyaraj, D. B. S. (3 October 2006). "Peaceful protests of Tamil Parliamentarians". transcurrents.com. 
  11. ^ "5 June 1956". Peace and Conflict Timeline. 
  12. ^ Wilson, A. Jeyaratnam (1994). S. J. V. Chelvanayakam and the Crisis of Sri Lankan Tamil Nationalism, 1947–1977: a Political Biography. University of Hawaii Press. p. 89. 
  13. ^ Vittachi, Tarzie (1958). Emergency '58 the Story of the Ceylon race Riots. André Deutsch. p. 90. 
  14. ^ "20 February 1961". Peace and Conflict Timeline. 
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i Sri Kantha, Sachi (20 February 2011). "Satyagraha of February 1961 in Eelam". Ilankai Tamil Sangam. 
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Jeyaraj, D. B. S. (6 March 2011). "Satyagraha receives “Baptism of fire” on first day". dbsjeyaraj.com. 
  17. ^ Ross, Russell R.; Savada, Andrea Matles, eds. (1990). Sri Lanka : A Country Study (PDF). Library of Congress. p. 51. 
  18. ^ Chattopadhyaya, Haraprasad (1994). Ethnic Unrest in Modern Sri Lanka: An Account of Tamil-Sinhalese Race Relations. M. D. Publications. p. 33. ISBN 81-85880-52-2. 
  19. ^ Amarasinghe, Samanga (2011). Independence to Referendum. Lulu Enterprises. p. 188. ISBN 978-1-105-01908-1. 
  20. ^ Rajasingham, K. T. "Chapter 23: Srimavo's constitutional promiscuity". Sri Lanka: The Untold Story. 
  21. ^ Wilson, A. Jeyaratnam (1994). S. J. V. Chelvanayakam and the Crisis of Sri Lankan Tamil Nationalism, 1947–1977: a Political Biography. University of Hawaii Press. p. 132. 
  22. ^ a b Jeyaraj, D. B. S. (9 June 2002). "Life and times of Sivasithamparam". The Sunday Leader. 
  23. ^ Rajasingham, K. T. (26 August 2005). "Amirthalingham Era – A book review". Asian Tribune. 
  24. ^ Sumanthiran, M. A. (28 October 2012). "13A: To be or not ...". Ceylon Today. 
  25. ^ Rajasingham, K. T. "Chapter 24: Tamil militancy - a manifestation". Sri Lanka: The Untold Story. 
  26. ^ "Result of Parliamentary General Election 1977" (PDF). Department of Elections, Sri Lanka. 
  27. ^ Wickramasinghe, Wimal (18 January 2008). "Saga of crossovers, expulsions and resignations etc. Referendum for extention [sic] of Parliament". The Island (Sri Lanka).