In a clarification sent to the Colombo Telegraph, former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga has said that the story which we carried on June 5 under the heading ‘Fire At Kosgama Army Camp Causes Havoc, Is CBK To Be Blamed’ is completely false.
The clarification sent on behalf of her by her Director Media said, “Madam Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, former President of Sri Lanka asserts that this statement is completely false, she did not give these orders and it was decided by the Army in 1993, before her Government came into power.”
The Colombo Telegraph story which quoted a highly placed military expert said that Kumaratunga should take full responsibility for this incident, as the armoury was established in Salawa, Kosgama on her orders, when she was the defence minister, despite strong protests against her decision. The establishment of the armoury at Kosgama was deemed as a move against the law as well as against certain standards.
Following Kumaratunga’s clarification, our military expert goes on to say that although the Salawa Army Camp had an armoury, it was Kumaratunga who converted it into a heavy weapon armoury in the late 90s.
The day after the decision was made, her cabinet minister Indika Gunawardena, who lived near the camp told Uvindu Kurukulasuriya, who was then attached to the Ravaya newspaper, about the decision and said this armoury would suffer grievously in the event of an accidental explosion.”Why can’t she set it up in Horagolla instead of shoving it up my sarong?”, he asked angrily at that time.
Soon after the Salawa incident, even former President Mahinda Rajapaksa said, “The central armoury of the army was established in this location in the late 1990s by the then government despite protests by politicians in the area like Dinesh Gunawardena and Bandula Gunawardane who warned against the storing of large quantities of ordnance close to residential areas.”
Editor’s Note: The unfortunate incident at the Salawa Army camp has resulted in a blame game, however despite the successive change in governments and despite the defence portfolio coming under several different Presidents, none of them have followed the weapon and ammunition management standards, which has led to the fire and destruction at the Army camp. It is clear from the incident that the armoury was in an unsuitable area, which is highly residential resulting in a massive destruction.