(1951–1971) was a Kataragama
beauty queen who was beaten and murdered by Sri Lankan soldiers in 1971.
Premawathi was born the eldest daughter of a ten member family. In 1970 she was crowned the festival queen at that year's new year festival in Kataragama.
Death and aftermath
In the midst of the 1971 JVP insurrection
, Kataragama was a center of insurgent activity. On April 16
the Sri Lankan Army
crushed the insurgents and brough the city under their control. That day several girls, including Premawathi, who were believed to be involved with the rebels were arrested.
Premawathi was tortured through the night to no avail revealing nothing about her activities. Infuriated the lieutenant made Premawathi take off her clothes and walk across the town nude while been beaten by him and another officer. Finally stopping near a post office, the officers opened fire on the girl and buried her alive. They returned on two separate occasions to finish her off. She ultimately died from a bullet to the head.
The 22 years old Premawathie's murder suspects Lieutenant A. Wijesuriya, a Volunteer member of the Ceylon Army, attached to the 3rd Gemunu Watch, and Amaradasa Ratnayake a member of the Volunteer Force were brought into trial and found guilty for attempted murder on the April 17, 1971 by shooting her with Sterling sub-machine guns, and un-identified soldier shot her head with a rifle to death. The two accused were sentenced to 16 years rigorous imprisonment. Later in 1988 Lieutenant A. Wijesuriya was killed by the suspected JVP hit team at Matara as a punishement for the murder of Premawathie.
Her murder attracted national attention and was a major issue addressed in the 1977 election. UNP candidate Ranasinghe Premadasa
discussed the attack in great detail and condemned Sirimavo Bandaranaike
's handling of the crime to discredit his opponent.
He eventually won the election in a landslide.
Baila singer Anton Jones
wrote and sang a song about Premawathi. In 2001 a film was made based on her story with Sangeetha Weeraratne
play the role as Premawathi.
- Insurgency – 1971 : An Account of the April Insurrection in Sri Lanka by Justice A.C. Alles
- SRI LANKA - A LOST REVOLUTION? The Inside Story of the JVP by Rohan Gunaratna