Talduwe Somarama

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Talduwe Somarama Thero
Talduwe Ratugama Rallage Weris Singho

(1915-08-27)27 August 1915
Died6 July 1962(1962-07-06) (aged 46)
Criminal statusExecuted by hanging
Criminal chargeMurder (assassination of S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike)
PenaltyDeath by hanging

Talduwe Ratugama Rallage Weris Singho, better known as Talduwe Somarama Thero (27 August 1915 – 6 July 1962), shot and killed S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike, the fourth Prime Minister of Ceylon (later Sri Lanka), who served from 1956 until his assassination by Somarama in 1959.[1][2][3]

Early life[edit]

Somarama Thero was born on 27 August 1915, to Iso Hamy and Ratugama Rallage Dieris Appuhamy.[citation needed] He was robed when he was 14 on 20 January 1929, and received his schooling at Talduwa Ihala School.[citation needed] He allegedly received his higher ordination as a Thero (Buddhist monk) in Kandy on 25 June 1936.[citation needed]

The assassination[edit]

Allegedly drafted into the conspiracy by Mapitigama Buddharakkitha Thero, the chief incumbent of the Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara,[4] Somarama Thero reluctantly consented to assassinate the Prime Minister "for the greater good of his country, race and religion".[citation needed] Buddharakkitha Thero attributed Bandaranaike's failure to aggressively pursue the nationalist reforms as the motive to eliminate him.[4] Others attributed the assassin's motives to his obligation to Buddharakkitha Thero, together with Bandaranaike's delay in fulfilling his campaign promises to Buddhism.[5]

The date was set to 25 September 1959, when Somarama Thero was to visit the Prime Minister at his home and shoot him at point blank range.[6] His saffron robes gave him free access to Tintagel, the private residence of Bandaranaike, in Rosmead Place, Colombo. As the Premier commenced his routine meetings with the public, Somarama waited in patience for his turn. When the monk's presence was announced to him, Bandaranaike rose to greet him in the traditional Buddhist manner. The assassin then pulled out the revolver hidden in his robes and fired at the prostrate Prime Minister. Somarama was injured in firing between himself and the Prime Minister's bodyguards.[citation needed]

Somarama Thero then faced trial, along with four other involved in the conspiracy. It was a hopeless case, and in spite of a resourceful defense the jury unanimously found Somarama Thero guilty of the capital offense. Before sentencing him to death, the trial judge, Justice T.S. Fernando, QC, CBE, told Somarama Thero he had a "streak of conscience as he did not attend court in his saffron robes."[citation needed] The chief conspirator, Mapitigama Buddharakkitha Thero and H. P. Jayawardena, a businessman closely associated with him, were found guilty of conspiracy to murder.[citation needed] Bandaranaike had suspended capital punishment, but after his death the government had it restored. In an apparent blunder by the draftsman, the law re-establishing the death penalty failed to include conspiracy to murder.[citation needed] As a consequence, while Somarama Thero would hang, the two chief conspirators escaped with life sentences.[citation needed]

Somarama Thero was hanged at Welikada Prison on 6 July 1962. He gave up his robes a fortnight before his hanging and, two days before his execution, was baptized as a Christian by an Anglican priest.[7]


  1. ^ "S.W.R.D.Bandaranaike,or Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike (Prime Minister of Sri Lanka)". Britannica Online.
  2. ^ "Bandaranaike, Solomon West Ridgeway Dias". History.Com.
  3. ^ "Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike". Encarta.MSN. Archived from the original on 2008-04-01.
  4. ^ a b "Parabhawa Sutta Vs. Mapitigama Buddharakkitha". LankaWeb. 2010. Retrieved 2011-02-05.
  5. ^ "Ceylon: Banda Avenged". Time. 19 May 1961. Retrieved 18 April 2023.
  6. ^ "How Mrs. Bandaranaike became Prime Minister in 1960 - Dahanayake's ascension". InfoLanka. Retrieved 2011-02-05.
  7. ^ "Buddhist baptized on eve of execution". The Times. London. 5 July 1962. p. 10.

Further reading[edit]

  • A.C. Alles, Famous Criminal Cases of Sri Lanka, Volume III: The Assassination of Prime Minister SWRD Bandaranaike (Dec-1979): Published by the author. Hardcover published by Vantage, Inc., New York, 1986 as The Assassination of a Prime Minister. ISBN 0-533-06636-0.
  • Lucian G. Weeramantry, The Assassination of a Prime Minister - The Bandaranaike Murder Case (Hardcover, Geneva, Switzerland, 1969).
  • Firoze Sameer, dOSSIEr COREA: A portfolio on crime (Colombo, Sri Lanka, 1999) ISBN 955-96740-0-5.
  • Seneviratne, H.L: Buddhist monks and ethnic politics. Anthropology Today, April 2001; 17(2): 15–21.
  • Weeramantry, L.G: Assassination of a Prime Minister – The Bandaranaike Murder Case, Geneva, 1969.

External links[edit]