The story of Eelanadu and an enterprising editor
One of the pioneer provincial newspapers in contemporary times in our
country was Eelanadu, now folded up. And one of its editors was
K.G.Mahadeva. He is now retired and lives in the Thamilnadu.
He has brought out a book in English titled "Reminiscences". Since he
studied in Thamil medium, he admits he is poor in English. However, he
managed to write in English the story of an important Yaalpaanam
newspaper which began as a tabloid and then entered into broadsheet
The book is interesting even for an average reader because it also
reveals the personal adventures of an editor living dangerously in hard
And to a specialist readers like students of journalism, this book
reveals untold stories that southern Sri Lanka was not familiar.
I wish to glean from this book at least a few pieces of information
and use them as excerpts. Editors in Colombo newspapers would certainly
be interested in knowing what had happened to journalists from the north
in bringing out a newspaper.
Political and social scientists as well as journalists would remember
that the Eelanadu office was burnt as the leading public library in Asia
- the Yaalpaanam public library was burnt on June 01, 1981. It was a sad
story. There is a written record of the origin, growth and destruction
of the library by K.C.Kularathinam.
Excerpts from "Reminiscences" available from the author: K.G.Mahadeva,
"Suprapatham", 5,8th Cross street, Thirunagar, Karumandapam, Trichy- 620
001, Thamilnadu, India: "Started in 1959 as a weekly magazine and
transformed into a bi-weekly in 1960 and daily in 1961, "Eelanadu"
extended its national service in all directions.
Well organized for 33 years, "Eelanadu" wobbled after the ethnic
trouble, shifted to many places, lost direction and finally stopped
altogether." "In 1990 itself " Eelanadu" started straying from
Chavakachcheri to Murugandi, then to Puthukudiyirrupu and was coming out
from those places but could withstand only for a few years."
K.G.Mahadeva hailing from Maddakkalappu in the east joined "Eelanadu
when he was 21 years old. He became the editor of "Cheithi", a weekly
tabloid published from Mahanuwara when he was 27.
He rejoined "Eelanadu in late 1970s as its News editor. KGM
continues: "The East-SriLanka National paper Corporation Chairman,
K.C.Thangarajah, his brother Dr K.C. Shanmugaratnam, and their nephew
B.Sivanandan were the founders and main shareholders.
The editorial staff had K.P.Haran as Managing Editor,
S.M.Gopalaratnam as news editor Raja Ariyaratnam as the Weekly Editor.
The sub editors were: T.M.Murugiah, S.Perumal, S.Sabaratna, K.Yoganathan
and K.Ganeshalingam. Another staffer was A.V.Maniccam. Later Raja
Ariyaratnam became the editor of "Eelanadu".
The layout of pages was handled by Narayanasamy. The Colombo
correspondents were Pn.Balasundaram, Mahalingasivam and Gamini Navaratne.
Other notable correspondents were: S.Thiruchelvam, K.Krishnarajah,
K.Rasalingam, R.Sundararaja Sarma, S.R.Gnanasundaram, A.N.S.Thiruchelvam,
Kandasamy, Balasingham, K.Thirulogamoorthy and S.Thillainathan. Later
other sub editors were working: M.Manoharan, Peri Shanmuganathan, Selvi
Gunamani, Selvi Pooranam, Parvathinatahasivam, Kanagaratnam, Natarajah
and S.Ganeshanathan. E.K.Rajagopal was another colleague."
KGM writes: "In 1983, I was the Jaffna reporter for "Daily
Mirror. I earned the friendship of Peramunathilake who started "Lanka
News Agency" after having worked as News Editor of "Lankadeepa", AP
correspondent Patrick Crusz and Reuters Editor Dalton de Silva....In
1982 an English weekly,"Saturday Review" was started in Jaffna.
S.Sivanayagam was the editor and A.J.Canagaratna was assisting him.
S.Sivanayagam made use of my services for "Saturday Review". On July 02,
1983, the government locked the doors of
"Saturday Review" and sealed it. Though short-lived, the services of
Sivanayagam made the rulers in the north and the capital think." "S.Thiruchelvam
who joined as official reporter of "Eelanadu" gained experience, later
joined "Thinakaran" and then served the SLBC.
Then he elevated himself as editor of "Eela Murasu", which was being
published from Jaffna in the 1980s... Now he is the Editor of
Information Bulletin", in Canada... R.Prabaharan who had his training in
"Eelanadu" and served it for a few years is now the Editor of daily "Virakesari"...
many youngsters joined "Eelanadu" and they were under my direct
The list includes P.Ananthakrishnan (Ananth Palakidnar, now senior
journalist with the "Daily News"), Senthilnathan and Sivaganeshan(now a
senior journalist with "Thinakueral"). They had acumen to gather news
and pen articles.
Their skill and popularity in the field of news writing today adds
honour and merit to "Eelanadu"...Some who have joined "Eelanadu"'s
family in the middle but worked hard, are now in the pinnacle of their
glory. M.Kanamylnatahan is editor of "Uthayan".
S.Perumal is in 'Uthayan' weekly, S.K.Kasilingam is publishing books
in France. S.Kuhanatahan is running "Eelanadu" in France. E.Kandasamy
works for a TV channel in France."
The newcomers were: A.S.Muruganandam, M.Parvathynathasivam,
V.N.Balasubramaniam, Prabaharan and Benjamin Rajaratnam. The most
interesting part in KGM's book is the Part 11 titled Incidents. The
journalist's adventure amidst political turmoil and risky atmosphere is
He was summoned by the late president Srimavo Bandaranaike during the
regime of the late President J.R.Jayawardene for publishing an interview
with her by Patrick Crusz who wrote it for the "Daily Mirror". The
interviewer had sent a copy of this to "Eelnadu" as well.
I do not want to explain further because it would spoil your interest
in reading how other media could misinterpret things. Political
commentators in the media should read this episode in Thamil journalism.
Parts 111 and 1V touch on the author' contacts with VIPs local and
abroad. The last section of the book includes excerpts of reviews in
Thamil on his original book in Thamil.
It was called "Ninaivalaihal" Those who reviewed were: 'Thinathanthi'
newspaper in Thamilnadu, Anthony Jeeva, "Sujatha"(a Thamilnadu writer),
K.Gunarasa (Chengai Aaliyan), Maana Mackeen, Devakanthan,'Ilakkiya', 'Kunkumam',
R.M.Nagalingam, P.Sribhavan and P.U.Lenin.