SLA shuns Perera's funeral

[TamilNet, Sunday, 12 October 2008, 08:40 GMT]
No senior officer of the Sri Lanka Army attended the funeral of Maj. Gen. Janaka Perera, the decorated former commander who was allegedly killed by a human bomber last Monday, according to the Sunday Times. The paper also reported that, following 'orders from the top', the remains of the general and his wife, another former Army officer, were kept waiting at Ratmalana Air Force base and, with permission not forthcoming for the caskets to be to be airlifted to Anuradhapura, later had to be taken by road with a dwindling escort of police.

In April, the Sri Lankan government ordered the Army to bar Maj. Gen. Perera from henceforth setting foot into its camps. The move came after he criticized the Rajapaksa government’s conduct of the war against the Tamil Tigers. Saying that the government’s self-imposed deadlines "were not realistic", Gen. Perera had questioned the wisdom of waging protracted war against the LTTE and warned that battle fatigue would set in and sap the military’s will to fight.

Extracts from the Sunday Times' Political Column published this week follow:

"Around 9.30 a.m. on Wednesday the sealed coffins of Perera and wife Vajira arrived at the Air Force base in Ratmalana. They lay there till noon whilst a dispute raged about the remains being airlifted to Anuradhapura.

"Officials at the airport had said that there was no clearance from the Ministry of Defence. Since they said they were awaiting such clearance, the remains were kept there. The disappointed family of late Perera decided to take his and his wife's remains to Anuradhapura by road.

"Late afternoon when the motorcade proceeded along Negombo Road, a police officer had stopped them at Ja-ela. They were told the motorcade could not proceed along that road though a police scout car and another police escort vehicle accompanied by motorcycle out riders were leading it.

"Later, the motorcade was forced to proceed to Kandy via Warakapola. At Kurunegala, the police scout car and the escort vehicle were abruptly withdrawn. Only the motor cycle outriders remained for the rest of the journey to Anuradhapura.

"More light on the issue was thrown later on Wednesday night. An official in the Ministry of Defence responsible for co-ordinating various matters told officials he had received 'instructions from the top' not to heed anyone's directives [to] allow the remains to be airlifted to Anuradhapura. had also added that he was instructed to take 'orders only from the top on such matters.' Thus, the instructions he received was to provide police escorts and the remains to be taken in a motorcade.

"In the light of steps taken by this official, Nimal Lewke (DIG in charge of the Police Field Force Headquarters) called on the family of late Perera. He said the police would escort the remains of late Perera and his wife. That was how the Police scout car and escort vehicle were assigned. There was no explanation as to why they were withdrawn when the motorcade had reached Kurunegala."

"That it was the treatment meted out to one of Sri Lanka's distinguished soldiers is another. Family members of the late Perera were aghast. They asked why the remains were kept at Ratmalana for hours and why the authorities did not have the common courtesy to inform them. If they had arranged to take the remains by road, it would have reached Anuradhapura during the three and half hours it was left behind at Ratmalana, a family member pointed out.

"An incensed family member said ‘they praise him as a war hero and at the same time provide him treatment that even an enemy does not deserve."

The day after Perera died, the Government placed an Air Force helicopter at the disposal of Eastern Province Chief Minister and TMVP leader Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan alias Pillayan. He and the TMVP spokesman Azad Mowlana flew in that to be on hand in Parliament for the swearing in of Karuna alias Vinayagamoothy Muralitharan.


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