Troops in the Northern Province including the capital of Jaffna were back out in their numbers again this month after being largely confined to barracks during the visit of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay and the Northern Provincial Council elections that were closely monitored by international observer missions.
The presence of armed soldiers was very rare in the week leading up to the September 21 poll after foreign polls observers and diplomatic observation teams from several embassies in Colombo travelled to the North.
Similarly when High Commissioner Pillay toured the region for two days military personnel were largely confined to barracks and major checkpoints like the one at Elephant Pass, the corridor that leads to the Jaffna peninsula were dismantled.
But troops are out in their numbers in the region once more and welfare shops, canteens and restaurants operated by the military are still widely in operation.
As international calls mount for scaling down troops in the former conflict zones to allow for normalisation of the region in the post-war phase, President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Tuesday announced that there would be no withdrawal of the military from the North.
“How will less troops help the Tamil people in the North,” the President asked addressing the convocation of the Kotalawela Defence Academy on Tuesday.