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The 1953 hartal: From an octogenarian


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I was Private Secretary to R.G. Senanayake, Minister of Trade and Commerce, a very powerful Minister in the Senanayake ruling clan.

In 1953 there was a hartal organised by the LLSP heading towards Temple Trees where Dudley Senanayake was residing. 



At the Colpetty junction there was a ruckus and the security shot and killed a man in the crowd. A monument in his memory is in the pavement opposite Methodist College

Dudley wanted to resign but the entire Cabinet tried to persuade him not to resign including the Kitchen Cabinet but he insisted and resigned.

He said it had happened under his watch and he was responsible. I observed there were tears in his eyes

Soon afterwards Sir John Kotelawala was appointed and in 1956 he lost to Bandaranaike who championed to make Sinhala the National Language and won a landslide victory. He kept his promise

A large number of capable people left the country or retired and the administration was in tatters and still is.

Please compare then and now. I don’t need to make any comments. The country situation speaks for itself. I don’t think you all were living at that time to compare when life was relatively wonderful. 

Lee Kuan Yew, the founding father of Singapore, praised and admired Ceylon and I think it is mentioned in his bio and today our PM says he wants to make Sri Lanka like Singapore

All the best. My time is over. 

– Hussein Cassim


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