Government woos deserters again

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 25 February 1998, 23:59 GMT]
A meeting was held at the Galewella Madhya Maha Vidyalaya recently to discuss plans to persuade Sri Lankan Army (SLA) deserters from the Galewella Divisional Secretary's area to rejoin the security forces. Galewela town is on the high way from Colombo to Polannaruwa through Dambulla.

The meeting was presided over by Galewella Divisional Secretary T. B Athauda where 59 grama sevekas (GS), welfare workers , teachers, justices of the peace, Buddhist monks and other social notables were present.

It was decided that the deserters should take advantage of the amnesty extended to them by Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga on the 50th anniversary of Sri Lanka's independence and rejoin the forces.

Details of the deserters still at large in the area were handed over to the GSs by the Divisional Secretary.

The Galewella meeting is another stark reminder of the SLA manpower problems, exacerbated in recent times by the increasing demand for troops by the 10 month long Operation Jayasikurui.

Desertion has bedevilled the security forces from 1990, but they have gathered in intensity in the past two years.

The Sri Lanka Government has periodically announced amnesties to deserters hoping that they would rejoin the ranks.

The latest was announced by the Sri Lankan President herself on February 7.

This amnesty ends tonight. The SLA said today that about 3000 soldiers have responded to the latest amnesty. Twelve thousand, according to official figures, are still at large.


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