Country would have to pay a very heavy price

spyingFormer General Officer Commanding (GoC) of 53 Division Maj. Gen. Kamal Gunaratne has urged the government to stop rapid deterioration of the country’s premier intelligence service, the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI).

Gajaba Regiment veteran Maj. Gen. Gunaratne said the country would have to pay a very heavy price unless the ongoing harassment stopped.

Appearing on ‘360’ on Derana, anchored by Sanka Amarjith, the Maj. Gen. expressed serious concern over unprecedented developments pertaining to some DMI personnel, including two officers holding the rank of Lieutenant Colonel who had to sleep on mats at the CID after being arrested in connection with a high profile case.

Having served the Army for 35 years, Maj. Gen. Gunaratne retired early this month.

The Maj. Gen said that post-war Sri Lanka couldn’t afford to lose the services of experienced officers and men in spite of the country not facing a conventional military threat. A smiling infantry officer said that at the onset the Intelligence Services had repeatedly failed the military though by the time the Eelam War IV broke out the DMI produced results.

The war veteran said that he had an opportunity to bring the plight of those who had been arrested since the change of government to President Maithripala Sirisena before he retired. The Maj. Gen said that he had the chance to take up the contentious issue when the President summoned the military top brass for a meeting at a place in Negombo.

The Maj. Gen said that he had received a patient hearing from the President. Responding to another query from the interviewer, the Maj. Gen said that a minister who had been seated next to the President took down notes.

The retired soldier expressed confidence that the President who is also the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces would address the grievances of those who had served the country.

Comparing the DMI operation to bring slain LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran’s successor, Kumaran Pathmanathan from Malaysia in early August 2009 with similar projects undertaken by the major powers, Maj. Gen. Gunaratne said that the Sri Lankan intelligence served the best interests of the country.

Outspoken retired soldier said that operations undertaken by intelligence services should never be reviewed in the wake of change of administrations. Such measures would be severely detrimental to national security, hence the requirement to desist from exposing personnel.

Commenting on accusations directed at the military in respect of atrocities committed during Eelam War IV, Maj. Gen. Gunaratne said the Army after taking into consideration the civilian factor had suspended the use of heavy weapons at a crucial stage of the Vanni offensive on a government directive.

The wartime 53 Division Chief paid a glowing tribute to the then President Mahinda Rajapaksa for not succumbing to Western pressure as they trapped the LTTE on the Vanni east front. President Rajapaksa had the strength to face the mounting pressure until the Army could finish off the LTTE, Maj. Gen. Gunaratne said, adding that the body of the terrorist leader was burnt as he was a Hindu.

The Maj. Gen revealed that the then Army Chief Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka had instructed the GoC of the 58 Division Maj. Gen. Shavendra Silva to ensure the safety and security of Karuna Amman and Daya Master when they were flown in there to identify Prabhakaran’s body. A large body of Commandos had been assigned to guard them as they didn’t want any untoward incident, the Maj. Gen said.

Gunaratne said that at a crucial stage of the offensive they feared those who had been wanting to save the LTTE leadership would intervene. Even an attack could have been a possibility, the Maj. Gen said, adding that they took certain precautions to ensure the continuation of the offensive.

Although the entire territory had been brought under military control by the evening of May 18, 2009, Prabhakaran evaded detection and finally was killed in a confrontation with 4 VIR (Vijayabahu Infantry Regiment) troops on the following morning. (The Island)

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