The ‘Kansa’ Discovery
1971 – Maradankadawela
I was stationed at Maradankadawela and they had planned a 10 day operation in the jungle. There were about 8 others – a platoon each was going. And this was a place we had to start from Anuradhapura – there was a road called Yakalla – Galabindunawa road – from there you start off in the jungle. We start off at 6 in the morning. From 5.30 to 5.45 the Air Force was going to bomb the area – bomb meaning they had only Crow’s jets – 2 or 4 rockets. So we were lined up on the road and the guy next to me was CLI (Ceylon Light Infantry) – he said I’m getting in. I said don’t go, Air Force buggers will get you – “No” he said, “early bird gets the worm” – and he walked in. Just then the Air Force jets came and we heard ‘dung dung’ and this fellow made a hasty retreat.
Anyway we started off in to the jungle – this was Ritigala reserve. On the 3rd day; we navigate by compass and the map, I was at the lead with the compass – I suddenly found something missing. My fellows are missing. I stopped – no one. So I immediately turned round, took a back bearing and went. About 150 or 200 metres, I found these fellows have put their packs down and they are plucking leaves from trees. 6 foot tall, well grown trees. I blasted the Sergeant. He came upto me and said, “Sir Kansa, Kansa!” I said, “mona Kansada?!” Ganja! My God. These fellows are putting their rations down and packing their bags with Ganja! So then I radioed to headquarters in Anuradhapura and said we have come across a huge Ganja field. I got immediate instructions – stay put, I’m diverting other platoons there, you destroy the whole thing. So the 4th day morning the other platoons started converging and started pulling out the plants. By that time our guys had stopped – they were full of Ganja. Then it was Col. Cyril Ranathunge who was the Ward officer in Anuradhapura – he flew in a chopper and contacted me on the radio and said another chopper will come with a barrel of diesel. Burn the whole thing. It was about 3 acres. We took about 2.5 days to uproot the whole thing. And then the diesel was brought, dumped and we burned the whole thing. 10 day operation was over and we came back to camp.
A tale related by Retd. Brig. Vipul Botejue which took place when he was a 2nd Lieutenant in the Sri Lanka Army.