I had the opportunity to meet the one time Mayor of Kandy G.N.S. Hameed who was the only Muslim to sit on the Mayor’s Chair in Kandy, who spent only Rs 2,000/= of Municipality funds for the Civic reception to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi when she visited Sri Lanka and then attended a Civic Reception by the Kandy Municipal Council on behalf of the people of Kandy on September 20, 1967- 54 years ago.
He celebrated his 82nd birthday on October 15. He also had the unique distinction as Deputy Mayor acting for the Mayor to receive the Venerable Sangharaja on February 15, 1967.
Receiving Indira Gandhi at the reception at Bogambara grounds, with his late wife
G.N.S. Hameed in Mayoral robes
Mr. Hameed was the youngest Councillor in the Kandy Municipal Council at the age of 21 years during that period. He contested the newly carved Katugastota ward and won the seat and became the youngest member in Council in the Centenary year 1966. His vote was very valuable for the United National Party as the difference in Council was 10/09 and in the election of the Mayor with this one vote played a vital issue.
It came about, as Mr. Hameed explained, that the Mayor of Kandy E. L. Senanayake had to leave the country on an official engagement and on his recommendation Mr. Hameed was appointed by the Local Government Commissioner to be Mayor in view of the visit of the Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi.
G.N.S. Hameed’s birthday was on October 15, and he is 82 years old, as to me he remains the same person I met years ago.
I came to know Mr. Hameed as a journalist working then for the ‘Ceylon Daily Mirror’ and it was after years that I barged into him during the pandemic period where he lives with his daughter and his
grandchildren in Kalubowila.
Mr Hameed had 45 establishments in Katugastota with 25 houses and 20 business establishments. By the time he left Kandy his entire wealth had been spent on social work.
While in the Municipal Council his resolution afforded for the Council to donate land for a swimming pool for St. Anthony’s College. Then he donated his own property of 16 perches for a reading room on Madawala Road and which has now expanded for a multi-purpose Centre of the Municipality.
Hameed also donated two business establishments to be converted to a Mosque in the centre of Katugastota town. He also donated 16 perches of valuable land for a community Centre on Madawala Road.
He said he has no regrets in life, except that his wife passed away while in Colombo.
Furthermore, he added that his best period of life was while he was in Kandy jostling about with all communities and attending to their work while at the Kandy Municipality.
Mr. Hameed said that all his wealth was from his uncle who looked after him and educated him at St. Anthony’s College after the demise of his parents at Katugastota. His uncle not only gave him an education but also gave his wealth to him. That he said was how he had all those properties.
Kandy had only a handful of journalists then, and he was very close to them while he was a City father.
His actions during the Civic reception for Prime Minister Indira Gandhi demonstrates his attitude towards the Press. During the event held at the Bogambara Ratwatte Pavilion, an ASP had barred journalists from entering the area to cover the event. When this was conveyed to Mayor Hameed, he came down from his seat with the Cloak and Chain of office and told the ASP “You have no right to stop the Press they must be allowed entry to where the Prime Minister is seated”. How many politicians at any level would have taken this stand while at a reception for a foreign Dignitary?
Hameed was also instrumental in setting up the present Zahira College in Katugastota.
He has six daughters and one son and nineteen grandchildren and
lives in Kalubowila.