Home guards bound for warfront

[TamilNet, Thursday, 09 April 1998, 23:59 GMT]
Seven thousand home-guards have been issued automatic assault rifles and are now being trained by the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) to man the forward defence lines (FDLs) on the Anuradhapura - Vavuniya border that divides the war torn north-east Sri Lanka from the rest of the country, said military sources.

The move is expected to relieve SLA troops which are currently stationed on the border to secure the Sinhala villages such as Horowapotana, Kahatagasdithihiliya, Pattawa etc.. to undertake other duties of Operation Jayasikurui in the Vanni.

Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan police announced this week that shot guns issued to over 1000 farmers in the border villages to boost the strength of the army and Police deployed in these parts are to be withdrawn.

The police feel that the weapons are not being used for the purpose they were issued, but have aided crime, lawlessness and violence, said sources.

The police went around the border villages using a public address system asking villagers to turn over their weapons to the nearest police station.

Home-guards manning the border villages have been controversial ever since the cadre was established in the early 1980s.

They have been accused by Tamil Parliamentarians of attacking Tamil villages and harassing Tamil civilians in the border areas.

In turn, it is also said that the home-guards, who are paid on a daily basis are used as cheap labour by the Police, being used to perform menial tasks in the day and sent out to man the front line of defence against the LTTE by night.

Though it is sometimes acknowledged by senior Sri Lankan Police officers that the home-guards are a disgruntled and poorly disciplined lot, their activities are often concealed from the Sinhala public.

They are represented in the media as civilian heroes fighting to preserve the integrity of their motherland.


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