By Sumedha Perera –
I would like to draw your kind attention towards the opinion column by Taniya Raymond under the headline ‘GENERAL INVOLVED IN JANUARY 8TH COUP ATTEMPT TO BE SENT TO NEW YORK AS UN MILITARY ATTACHE’. It is quite regrettable to note that the allegations levelled against me in this article are completely untrue and has tarnished my name and reputation as a senior serving officer in the Sri Lanka Army, with more than 36 years of service behind me.
Regarding the allegations of a coup on January 8th, like any other election held in the past Army troops were called upon to assist to maintain law and order, during and after elections, on a written request made by the IGP mainly to fill the vacuum created by the absence of more than 70,000 policemen deployed for election duties island wide.
On receipt of the IGP’s request an Operational Order was sent by the Chief of Defense Staff to all three services issuing necessary instructions for troop deployment. Thereafter the Commander of the Army sent his Operational Order to the Security Force Commanders outlining the task at hand and appointing them as the officers in charge of their respective areas of responsibility, including the Security Force Commander (West) who was in charge of the Colombo troop deployment adhering to proper military procedures.
A number of battalions were brought to Colombo to meet the requirement given by the IGP. It must be noted that these battalions were not only from the Gajaba regiment, as the writer stressed, but also from other regiments too. It was not I but another senior General who was the Gajaba Regimental Commander and I was the Special Forces Regimental Commander at the time. I did not lead or disperse any troops in Colombo as speculated by the writer, it was however the Security Force Commander (West) who commanded them during the entire Internal Security Operation assisting the Police to maintain law and order on the Operation Directive issued by The Chief of Defense Staff and the Commander of the Army. Therefore the authors allegations of the Military attempting to stage a coup on January 8th is an unfounded and baseless allegation.
As for the author’s comments made on my court case, I was acquitted by Colombo High Court Judge P R Walgama in year 2009 and based on this decision I was awarded USP (Uttama Seva Paddakkama) for unblemished character by a Tri Service board subsequently. The writer’s statement that went on to say that I was reinstated and promoted to the rank of Major General, despite being found guilty for property theft, with the blessings of the previous government is a total fabrication of true facts and in fact I fought my case for four years (2005-2009) when the previous government was in power.
I have served the in the military for 36 years now, having joined at the age of 18 in 1980. Since then I have actively participated in almost all the Military Operations conducted against the LTTE. Currently I am also one of the few in all three services decorated with the highest number of gallantry awards, for individual acts of gallantry and conspicuous bravery of a high order in the face of the enemy. Very soon I will be hanging my boots and retiring from my military career. However the point I would like to make here is that, any allegations like these with twisted facts need to be checked by their authors before they are written or published. When the country’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and very existence was threatened by a reign of terror it was the men from the military that stood up and fought for their country. Accusations and allegations like these on senior officers will only have a negative impact on those still serving in the military, for when someday country and duty calls it will keep them from giving their duty the fullest.