Sri Lanka: Narrating the situation on 71 insurrection through CIA eyes!

Mrs. Bandaranaike could be forced to step down as Prime Minister and, if the army approved, “strong-man” Felix Dias Bandaranaike–who is related to her–would take over, declassified CIA papers reveal.

(February 11, 2017, Boston — Hong Kong SAR, Sri Lanka Guardian) “A Ceylonese official acting on behalf of Prime Minister Bandaranaike, has requested US assistance in getting six helicopters and spare parts within at least the next 10 days,” a declassified CIA paper revealed.

According to the paper, “the Ceylonese official said the prime minister viewed the situation as desperate. He described the uprising as a “full-blown insurgency movement of the classic pattern as seen elsewhere in this general area–Malaysia for instance.”      The government believes that the rebels have been preparing since 1968 and he estimates the strength of the insurgents to be between 10,000 to 20,000.  The government is convinced that the insurgents have significant amounts of rifles and automatic weapons and have gained sub­stantial popular support. The Ceylonese official said that the rebellion cannot be controlled within the next 10 days, but that the insurgents must be stopped before they get good”

“British officials…. Are increasingly concern about the situation and want to do all they can to help. The Ceylonese have also requested helicopters, capable of air borne assault, from the UK. The British, however, say that “practical problems” make it unlikely that these can be provided.  None is currently available through British commercial channels.”

Prime Minister Bandaranaike has expressed concern to British officials about the safety of two of her children who are currently in the United Kingdom.  There is some evidence that the Ceylonese insurgents have agents there some insurgent propaganda is resumed to have been produced in Britain. Scotland Yard is providing ‘protection for the children–who are in their twenties.”

Meanwhile, describing the situation one day after the 71 insurrection through its intelligence memorandum the CIA reported while quoting the government source on April 6, 1971, “ a spokesman for the Ceylonese Ministry of Defence described the security situation as “very, very serious” in a conversation with the US charge today at 1630 hours Ceylonese time (0600 hours EST). The mid-afternoon to dawn curfew imposed on the Island early this morning remains strictly in effect. Colombo itself is fairly quiet, with power and phone systems operating, but security officials have refused to issue passes to permit US Embassy personnel to travel to the chancery during curfew hours. A skeleton staff is manning the embassy on a 24-hour basis.”

“The number of attacks upon police stations probably exceeds the 25 mentioned in the prime minister’s early morning radio broadcast, and up to 200 insurgents have reportedly been killed so far. Communications with the city of Kandy, some 65 miles from Colombo, have been cut off; the road to Kandy is blocked at Warakapola, 36 miles from the capital, by insurgents who have captured a police station. Action is still going on in the Kegalle area, between Colombo and Kandy, much of which is apparently in rebel hands. Few trains in the interior are running and railway stations at several towns are out of commission following insurgent attacks.  According to the US charge, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the security authorities will have little warning of further insurgent activity.”

“Ceylon’s armed forces can mobilize to a total of approximately 14,000 active and inactive military personnel in 30 days; the military reserves, which at full strength only number about 10,00Q are being called up now.    The armed forces and the 11,500-man police force are poorly equipped and trained, although for the time being the army appears to be holding its own.  The police, however, appear to be in trouble in a number of areas and both forces can be expected to run into increasing difficulties, particularly in the area of logistics, if the insurgency is prolonged.”

The government has ordered all newspapers shut down and all schools have been closed.

“Mrs. Bandaranaike was scheduled to call a cabinet meeting at 1500 hours (0430 EST) this afternoon and there was much speculation among members of the Colombo press corps that the meeting would result in a change of government. According to rumors circulating at the press club, Mrs. Bandaranaike could be forced to step down as Prime Minister and, if the army approved, “strong-man” Felix Dias Bandaranaike–who is related to her–would take over.”


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