At a time when there were death threats on those -especially the security forces-protecting the lives of the Sinhalese in the North, a Tamil who offered to save the lives of 20 Sinhala police officers died on February 29 at the age of 83. He saved the police officers serving the Chavakachchceri Police from an attack by TELO made in 1984.
He was Police Sergeant Balasingham Krishnapillai (6891).
I had the opportunity to share the experiences of his brave deed for the Sunday Lankadeepa about three years ago.
He began to relate his story in a very intimate mood. As he spoke his bravery during the episode was eminent.
“We are all humans. Whether Sinhala, Tamil or Muslim we are human and have the same blood and feel pain or sorrow alike. My sense of humanity led me to save these 20 officers who were facing an eminent threat of death” is how Krishnapillai began relating his story three years ago during an interview.
“At the time of the attack by TELO on Chavakachcheri Police Station I was asleep in the barrack after finishing the previous day’s work.
“Thundering sounds of guns began to vibrate the environment at dawn from all directions. It looked as if it was a major attack and it seemed death of my fellow Sinhala officers was eminent. The possibility of them being captured and tortured in a cruel manner flashed across my mind. I knew that in the onslaught they would spare me as I am a Tamil.
“Time was running out and I asked the Sinhala officers in the barrack to follow me into the nearby estate where there was a growth of shrubs and there was a passage beyond the fence of the police premises” added Krishnpillai who also recalled how bullets flew all around him.
“I found a safe spot in the shrubby estate where we could hide. All of us stayed there motionless. Even at this point it didn’t come to my mind to leave them alone at the hideout and return home. I was determined to stay with them despite the risk of me being killed by them and being branded as a traitor.
“Our hideout was in an estate belonging to a lawyer whose name was Navarathnam.
“Within a few minutes of our escape from the police station premises we could hear thundering sounds of shooting from the nearby police barrack. They had combed the entire area and were searching for Sinhala police officers, as we came to know later” he said.
Krishnapillai further described how he handed over the Sinhala officers to the Elephant Pass Camp. “Making sure the TELO had left I came to the road and stopped a vehicle. In this vehicle I carried them to the Army Camp at Elephant Pass.
“Before leaving the TELO group had killed the officer on duty at the gate and two men in khaki at the police station. The 20 officers who narrowly escaped death bowed and paid gratitude to me.I felt very happy being able to save the lives of my fellow officers” he said.
He had been commended by the Sri Lanka Police for his brave deed.
The TELO Leader had scolded and abashed the gang responsible for the attack on the police station for failing to destroy the police officers, Krishnapillai said.
Born in 1943 he had joined the Department of Police in 1962 as a constable and engaged in duties in Colombo-Fort, Harbour and the Police stations in Wellawatta and Trincomalle.
Speaking about the father, Krishanpillai’s son, Krishnapillai Kannan Dasan, said that his father had lived in good health until six month before his death. He fell ill during this period He is one of five sons of our brave police officer Krishnapillai. One of them had died in Germany. Two more elder brothers live in London and he and another brother live in Peduruthuduwa. The two brothers, in London, had come to attend the father’s funeral, said this son.
“The friends of my father in the police still l maintain their friendship with our family,” the brave police officer’s son said.