22nd June 1997

The Jungle Telegraph

By Alia

Military millionaires

Two and half years after they gave a "blank cheque" to military leaders to procure "whatever they needed" to crush the LTTE, PA leaders now admit privately that there had been many a shady deal.

Some of these deals where the cut-backs alone run into millions of rupees have become the subject of discreet but intense inquiries.

Amidst all this comes a story which is sure to find a prominent place in a Believe It Or Not classic.

One man who was at the centre of procurements has found a place for his progeny at a leading European university.

The annual fee alone is nearly a million rupees.

That is not all. Accommodation and food expenses for the year works out to another Rs 1.75 million. A total package of Rs 2.75 million per year.

A good deal one would say. But many Sri Lankans, businessmen included, would have found it difficult. Not unless they were millionaires or billionaires. A few others who were rich had to sell part of their house or property to send their young ones. But thanks to the ongoing separatist war, there are others who are lucky.

Blessed are those who made or are making procurements. They not only become millionaires but also live (unlike some of their poor, less fortunate counterparts) to enjoy a better life another day.

Pucara file missing

Two probe teams, one British and the other French, were in Colombo to probe the mid-air explosion of the SLAF Pucara fixed wing bomber on March 16, this year.

The two teams have already forwarded their reports to the Ministry of Defence. Both are learnt to have made some strong strictures with regard to alleged lapses and related matters.

But one report is learnt to have pointed out the loss of a valuable file relating to the Pucara.That file is said to have contained important information. A search is now on. Top officials have threatened to Court Martial anyone found responsible for the lapse.

Bugs on the front

While troops in volved in "Operation Jaya Sikurui" were busy fighting the Tiger guerrillas, a man in uniform tasked with electronic warfare (ew) responsibilities was waging a different war in the past weeks.

He has been assigned by his big boss, the man who unsuccessfully campaigned for a media censorship, to monitor telephone calls of selected targets in the establishment, some of them deployed in the frontline. Every evening, the tapes were played and the boss was told of the contents.

A couple of those who made revealing conversations (not to the media though) were reprimanded.

They were told a repetition would compel them to forego their next promotion.

There was at least one conversation that did not warrant a reprimand. It was too vulgar and a repetition of those words by the top brass would have sounded more vulgar. In the olden days they said "set a thief to catch a thief." They now call it electronic warfare.

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