Olivia Bonnal Sansoni
In July 1991, a young soldier from the Sinha Regiment earned the gratitude of the Nation. Cpl. Gamini Kularatne, later known as ‘the hero of Hasalaka’, saved the Elephant Pass camp at the cost of his own life. In recognition of his heroism, he was posthumously awarded the ‘Parama Weera Vibusha-naya’, the highest honour for bravery in the Sri Lanka Army. On the night of July 13, 1991 over 5000 LTTE cardres surrounded the 600 -strong army garrison located at Elephant Pass, Alimankada. Elephant Pass was known as the gateway to the northern Jaffna Peninsula. Corporal Gamini Kularatne, along with the rest of his regiment, was tasked with watching for possible LTTE infiltrators. Kularatne, holding two grenades in his hands, dashed out towards the oncoming bulldozer tank, clambered up the tank’s ladder and tossed the two grenades inside it. The billboard memorialises this act of bravery.
“Ode to a Hero” Diptych: Elephant Pass (Alimankada), North Sri Lanka, May 10, 2012, 35 mm