(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) – Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake, Commander of the Army attending the 69th Army anniversary Flag Blessing ceremony at Anuradhapura Jaya Sri Maha Bodhiya premises on Monday (01) in reply to some media queries after the day’s proceeding were over asserted that the Army would be prepared to undertake the task of eradication of drug menace from the country, if powers are granted as the Government intends since it is an organisation which could effectively perform what has been assigned to it.
“Since ancient times, the Army has embarked on assisting the development of the country. Due to prevailing peace prospects, Army troops with the patronage received from the Government have begun renovation of 576 tanks of medium and small size in Trincomalee District, 214 tanks in Polonnaruwa District and 1000 tanks in Wellassa region. Intending to assist development taking place in the country, Officers and other ranks of the Army through funds and machinery made available by the Government are currently engaged in this project,” Army Commander said.
Referring to another query over alleged commemoration of so called ‘LTTE martyrs’, the Commander said, “If anyone does things like these, we have to be concerned as a country, but commemoration of war-affected late Tamil civilians is no issue since it is their prerogative. However, if the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam Organisation) is commemorated, we need to be cautious and concerned. But a programme of that nature which lasts for about one hour or so would in no way pose a threat to the national security concerns. That’s not to be interpreted a breakdown of national security as such. All three forces are well geared to face any such national security threat at any time, but no such question arises as at present. ”
In reference to an appeal made by members of the Maha Sangha at the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi monastery earlier in the day in relation to possibilities of Army involvement in cracking drug menace, the Commander said “Drug smuggling poses the biggest menace facing this country as at present. The Army already playing a role in this regard continues to exchange intelligence with the Police and the Special Task Force (STF). We provide information we receive to the Police from both internal and external sources. So do the Navy and the Air Force. The Government expects to transfer legal powers to the Army to curb this as we were told. We also hope to eradicate this destructive menace from the country, if such authority is vested in us. Drug prevention should be carried out after coordinating all agencies together for creation of a better society.”
Successful culmination of the war was a joint effort, he went on, “All gathered together and achieved this victory. However, the Army is the only organisation which kept its word as it was told. All three forces and the Police with the public support we finished the war.”