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Time to honour PC Tuan Sabhan He sacrificed his life in the line of duty

30 March 2021 12:05 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}



The memorial


Regular Police Constable Tuan Sabhan sacrificed his life for the people and the Police Force under the British rulers. But yet they did not care to promote him posthumously to a higher rank nor had the Police Service paid him a tribute even though he had lost his life to the gunpowder of notorious Bandit Saradiel at Utuwankanda. 

It is time the authorities thought of promoting him to a higher rank for the services he had rendered to the country. The former President Maithripala Sirisena wiped out the stigma of ‘Tratiors’ dubbed by the British on the Kandyan Heroes.  Likewise, it is time to give some thought to Tuan Sabhan who sacrificed his life for the Police Service and the people.

Saradiel was later described by many as a ‘Social Bandit’.  But, the first policeman to be shot dead by Saradiel was Special Constable George Van Haught on March 17, 1864. He was under suspension at the time he was killed by Saradiel while attempting to arrest the bandit who was hiding at his mother’s house. 

It is strange that PC Tuan Sabhan was not posthumously elevated to a higher rank though some others in the posse were promoted.  That then is the Police Service then and today.

Over the years many outstanding Police Officers have sacrificed their lives to protect the citizens of the country, especially during the onslaught of the LTTE.  Yet some of them seem to have sacrificed their lives in vain after having been ordered to surrender by higher-ups.


With his friend Mamalaya  Marikkar he wandered around looting from the wealthy and gave it to the poor people


In the hamlet of Mawanella, at a simple ceremony organized by the Officer in Charge of Mawanella Police, Inspector Asela Herath and attended by Sabragamuwa DIG Priyantha Chandasiri and personnel of the Mawanella Police did the Honours at the memorial erected in memory of P.C. Sabhan, who sacrificed his life to safeguard the citizens of the country.

This ceremony went unnoticed by many but to those who were aware about the conditions under which the Police worked in 1864 in places like Utuwankanda, the notorious Bandit Saradiel ruled the roost, wonder why the Police Department was unable to better honour the memory PC Sabhan.  

Saradiel was born on March 25, 1832 and was sent to the Illukgoda Temple for his education.  Though intelligent, Saradiel was a quarrelsome lad. He once fought with a boy who happens to be close relative of an upper class family.  The Police arrested him and kept him at the Police Station for a week.  This was said to be the turning point of his life.

Saradiel is also said to have been at Beligammana Temple in Mawanella. A Catholic by birth when he was in trouble he left the temple to live with his mother Pitchohamy in Utuwankande.   With his friend Mamalaya  Marikkar he wandered around looting from the wealthy and distributing what they acquired to the poor people. People including damsels liked him because he was distributing wealth of the wealthy.  He also took to ransacking the Mail horse carriages but the Police were unable to track him down.


Justice Thompson, after a jury trial at the Kandy Assize found Saradiel and his friend Marikkar guilty and sentenced him to death by hanging


Sirimalee a friend of Saradiel, informed the police when he was in Utuwankanda from where Saradiel fled twice, but on the third occasion while a police posse which was composed of the Assistant Government Agent F.R. Saunders was on his track Saradiel’s accomplice Mammalay Marikkar shot dead PC Sabhan, who was the first police man to die at the hands of a bandit. 

Justice Thompson, after a jury trial at the Kandy Assize found Saradiel and his friend Marikkar guilty and sentenced him to death by hanging.  They were hanged publicly at the Hangman’s Hill as a lesson to other such miscreants.

The state of fright these two Bandits, who terrorized Utuwankanda and its vicinity, were in when they kept their appointment with the hangman is set out vividly in the book titled, ‘Ceylon Police’ by DIG A.C. Dep.
Till the end of their trial, Saradiel and Marikkar were detained at the former Kandy Police Station where today stands D.S. Sennayake Children’s Library. There is not even a plaque in this place to mark the historical significance of one of the oldest Police Stations in Kandy. 

The trial proceedings were on parchment paper and this was found in the old Court House and then shifted to the present Courts Complex.  During the tenure of Kandy Bar Association President Shanthi Ratnayake PC and Talatha Athukorale was Justice Minister he moved to have the records located at the Kandy Court House.  It is said that even though the Archives department had also moved in the matter, nothing seemed to have happened to the suggestion. It would have been a matter of importance to follow how British Justice functioned in Ceylon as Sri Lanka was then known.

The writer has seen the documents, when the old records were shifted and shown by one of the peons Wickrame.  They were put into polythene bags and sent to the Kandy Courts complex and should be somewhere and if found would be of utmost significance to the country and to the Judiciary.  


DIG Priyantha Chandrasiri and Mawanella OIC Asela Herath Honour Constable Tuan Sabhan with floral tributes


Laying of flowers​



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