The Fifth Column

5th May 1996

'Be careful Dalu'

My Dear General Dalu,

First let me congratulate you on your assumption of duties as the Head of our Army.

However, I must confess I couldn't help feeling a little sorry for old Gerry who has been given a kick upstairs as our man in the land of Benazir - but being posted as an ambassador somewhere is nothing new for our Army Commanders, is it?

Dalu, I know you take only military decisions, but would it be wrong to ask you to intervene, if you can, about the censorship on all war related news? After all when Riviresa - the original one - was launched, they didn't even allow us to publish your name! Now, it is only slightly better and even on BBC, what we see is only a set of colourful squares that obliterate whatever pictures that come from the battlefield.

As for Rupavahini, we only see the General - not you, but the one with the walking stick - who seems to be visiting Jaffna almost everyday. Anyway these pictures and the death tolls are far from convincing, so you must do something about it if you can.

Dalu, correct me if I am wrong, but we have heard that this lot gives a better political leadership to the war than their predecessors. Yes, it is true that they were taken for a ride by Velu initially when they wrote letters to him and sent poor Bala for talks with their Bala. But, thankfully, they never armed the Tigers and they have been fighting well since then . So I hope they continue the good work with you at the helm.

But you must be careful, Dalu. Remember Hamilton? Everyone spoke so highly of him when he was in office but now they are making all kinds of allegations against him. And the same is true of Cecil also - and he is another who ended up as our envoy to Bangkok, of all places! So, it looks as if Service Chiefs who took to supporting political parties all ended up in hot water and we hope you will be as neutral as you are now.

Even so, Dalu, there are those who say that there is still a lot of politics in the army.

Is it true? And, if it true, why don't you do something about it now that you are at the top? I am sure your Commander-in-Chief wouldn't mind. She has a good track record and has pledged to be transparent in everything that she does and has done a good job so far, even if she conveniently forgot to abolish the Executive Presidency!

So, good luck and best wishes Dalu. You will need it to survive while fighting Velu's maniacs, not to mention the establishment in Colombo. I'am sure we will be seeing you often in the news bulletins.

Yours truly,

Punchi Putha.

PS - You won 'Riviresa I' and that will make things more difficult for you - they expect you to win always. If you have any doubts about that, just ask Arjuna and he will tell you how hard it is when people expect nothing but the best from you.

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