Seizure of arms won’t affect demilitarisation

Army war heroesThe recent seizure of a host of arms in Jaffna and Mannar of the Northern Province will not have any adverse bearing on the Sri Lankan government’s plan for demilitarising the North, according to Defence Secretary Karunasena Hettiarachchi.

“It [demilitarisation] will go on,” Mr. Hettiarachchi told The Hindu on Thursday.

However, he hastened to add that demilitarisation is “not the right word. What we say is right-sizing and right-deployment” of security forces.”

On Wednesday, the police found at a house in Chavakachcheri a suicide kit, four claymore mines, three parcels of C4 (Composition 4) explosives and ammunition, weighing 12 kg, according to Ruwan Gunasekara, a police spokesperson.

In a well in Illuppukadawai of the Mannar district, a stock of explosives, including a Rocket-Propelled Grenade launcher, was spotted. The cache was apparently used during the civil war. A 32-year-old man, said to be the owner of the Chavakachcheri house, had been nabbed in the neighbouring district of Killinochchi, the spokesperson said.

Asked whether the latest development came as a surprise to him, the Defence Secretary said: “Not at all. On the contrary, this only shows the efficiency of the national security system.”

He explained that “isolated instances” did not constitute threat to national security. “The media and the Opposition are highlighting them, but we take them on the merit of the incident.”

Already, members of the Joint Opposition, a coalition of parties and groups owing allegiance to former president Mahinda Rajapaksa argue that the country’s security was in danger.

To a query whether there was any change in the proposed visit of President Maithripala Sirisena to the North on Sunday, Mr. Hettiarachchi replied in the negative.

Meanwhile, a study on the status of occupation of land by the authorities revealed that about 12,750 acres in the Northern Province are still under the military’s control. “Continued land occupation by the military and police fuels suspicion of plans to use land to effect demographic change and ultimately, impact electoral representation of the area. Such fears must be addressed if the GOSL [Government of Sri Lanka] is genuine in its commitment to reconciliation,” states the study, undertaken by the Centre for Policy Alternatives. It recommended complete implementation of the 13{+t}{+h}constitutional amendment. (The Hindu)

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