Thursday, August 19, 2010

Govt to return civilian lands in Jaffna - Defence Secretary

The civilian lands acquired for security purposes in the Jaffna peninsula would be reduced and would be given to owners while others whose lands have to be kept to maintain certain essential security establishments would be provided either compensation or alternative land, Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa said testifying before the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission yesterday.

He said that the Government aims for a gradual reduction of its military presence in the former conflict affected North to be replaced by the Police.

However a certain amount of military presence in the area would be required, specially naval deployment, he added. The Defence Secretary also said that in the Vanni region all civilian land had been released and the Security Forces had redeployed certain military establishment. The Government property occupied by the military too have been released to relevant local civilian administrative authorities, he added.

Commenting on increasing the Police presence Secretary Rajapaksa noted that the Government had taken steps to recruit 500 new personnel from the North who were now undergoing training at the Kalutara Police Training School. In addition to increased recruitment Police personnel in the area are being provided with training in spoken Tamil, he added.

Giving a lengthy statement before the commission the Defence Secretary stated that most people today had forgotten that the Government had defeated the most ruthless terrorist organization ever.

"Specifically I want to inform you of the magnitude of the military strength they have acquired over the years. In 2005 when I took over as Secretary of Defence,specially the whole of Vanni area and part of the Eastern Province were under their complete control," he said.

Their weaponary collection was almost on par with the military. They had a naval force and air power in addition to ground troops. And special forces like the black tigers and suicide cadres. This is the LTTE that we defeated. It was not just a group of rebels. That's the extent of the strength of the LTTE.

The Secretary however lamented that some had not understood this true strength of the LTTE and their violent intentions.

The Defence Secretary on the occasion also submitted files containing detailed descriptions of all evidence he presented before the Commission.

Mangala Moonasinghe former Sri Lankan High Commissioner to India and Nihal Rodrigo former Sri Lankas' Ambassador to China gave evidence before the Commission earlier in the day. It would be reconvened today.

Courtesy: Daily News

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