Philip’s Infant Jailed in India

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By 2017-10-15

By Sriyani Ajantha Vithana

The Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) decided that the Second World War was a war of imperialists. In an attempt to rally people against the war, the British Colonial rulers at the time imprisoned the LSSP leaders.

Governor Caldicott had handed over, ahead of time to the State Council, a list of those to be imprisoned on 18 June 1940. On 5 April 1942, the Japanese bombed Colombo. By then, N. M. Perera, Philip Gunarwardene and Edmund Samarakkody were already in jail.
Since information had been received about preparations to kill the political leaders in prison under cover of the Japanese bombardment, the LSSP leaders escaped prison. N. M. Perera obtained a post of secretary in a bank in India under the name of Dr. Vishwanath. The LSSP leaders, Philip Gunawardena, his wife Kusuma Gunawardena, Robert Gunawardena and Hector Abhayawardena went to India. They had the support of Indian revolutionaries too.

This visiting group rented a flat in the city of Mumbai. An Indian national named Raghavan Codial also lived with them. He was known by the name 'Kabir' who was a renowned 15-century Indian poet. Here, one incident of significance took place - Philip's wife had their first child. The son who was born in India, was named 'Indika' based on the preference of the parents.
Soon, Indian police received information that a group of secret revolutionaries were in hiding in a house in Mumbai. Little Indika was just three months old. When they got to know that Indian Intelligence units were in pursuit, they decided to change houses. But it was already too late.

It was a decisive day in the year 1943. N. M. Perera had applied for the post of Professor at the Allahabad University. Since he had been called for an interview that day, Perera had left the house early morning. Philip, Kusuma, Baby Indika and Hector were in the house. At about 7.00 a.m. they heard someone knocking on the door. Kabir thought it must be the milkman and went and opened the door. Surprising him, a policeman stood outside with a revolver aimed at the door. An armed group had surrounded the house. Although the house was searched thoroughly, they did not find any weapons as expected. Actually they did not have any weapons with them.

The leader of the police team asked Kabir "what is your name?"
He replied 'Kabir"
Smiling in a derogatory manner, the police officer said, "There is a good poet by that name too."
Philip, Kusuma and Hector as well as the infant, were taken into custody. On the same day, through the Bank where he worked, N. M. too was taken into custody. They were all questioned, after which the Sri Lankan revolutionaries were handed over to the Colonial Government in Sri Lanka.

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