Jungle Telegraph

4th March 2001

By Alia

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On the mat

A Lieutenant Colonel described by former Army Commander, Lt. Gen. Srilal Weerasooriya, as a "hard working professional officer, with a sense of dedication" is on the mat.

He has been placed under observation for good behaviour and debarred from attending overseas courses or visits for two years. The ban still continues, though a superior, a media hater cast in the mould of an aratchi of yesteryears, has been doing his best to set aside the ruling and give him plum positions. Others in the know are furious and have named the man concerned "Mr. Bluff." The offence of the Lt. Col.? In Lt. Gen. Weer-asooriya's own words, in May, last year, the officer allegedly committed a "fraudulent act" after returning from a course in the United States. "Although this is a serious offence that should be tried by a Court Martial," Lt. Gen. Weer-asooriya observed "this particular instance is one of numerous such instances where in the past, officers have submitted false certificates after completion of overseas courses and claimed unattached allowances."

Unattached Allowance is a fee paid to officers on overseas stints to sustain themselves when the host (an organisation or a Government) does not pay, either for the entire duration of their stay or for some days. Lt. Gen. Weera-sooriya has more to say. He notes "It so happened that the certificate this officer submitted to Army Headquarters was referred to the US Embassy for clarification. Such clarification has never been sought before and it appears that a hidden hand of personal animosity was also involved. But there is no doubt that a fraudulent act has been attempted" by the officer concerned. But, no inquiries have been made to ascertain who was this "hidden hand" and why he tried to implicate the officer, if in fact there was such a move. That still remains a mystery.

But Lt. Gen. Weer-asooriya's admission there are "numerous instances" of officers submitting "false certificates after completion of overseas courses" and claiming unattached allowances has raised many an eyebrow in defence circles. A poser indeed for the present Army Commander, Lt. Gen. Lionel Balagalle. Its not only the role of the officer but also the media hater Godfather, who is now away to see a holy one.

To feel the pulse

With Britain taking the first step to outlaw the LTTE, Colombo based heads of western diplomatic missions are all eager to fly to Jaffna.

Requests for Foreign Ministry clearance to fly out are many. At least two have gone there and returned after obtaining views, among others, of civilians in the northern peninsula.

What ceasefire

Bursts of gunfire in the jungles of Kar-adiyanaru, in the Bat-ticaloa district, a few weeks ago baffled the security authorities. It came amidst the LTTE's unilateral ceasefire.

It later transpired that Tiger guerrilla cadres were carrying out a mock attack on the model of a security installation in the district. Once more proof of pre-parations underway whilst a ceasefire is in force.

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