Forces, integral part of country’s development – President

Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena

Today our tri-forces are not just engaged in national security but they are also an integral part of our development and social activities, President Maithripala Sirisena said addressing the eighth National Ranaviru (War Heroes) commemoration yesterday.

Over 100,000 soldiers as well as civilians lost their lives in the three decade war. The President who stressed that the government would do its utmost duty for the welfare of the soldiers of the war as well as those who are still in service, said the government will ensure that the forces become an even more professional force.

He reassured the families of the dead who had gathered to commemorate their loved ones at Parliament Grounds as well as the current members of the forces that the government would not heed the advice of critics to downsize the forces as they still had a vital role to play.

“Many say that the numbers must be reduced but the government will fulfil its responsibility and stand by the forces and strengthen them so they are able to ensure our national security”, said the President.

“When we had disasters like Aranayake, the Salawa explosion and Meethotamulla, it was the tri-forces along with the police who rendered a great service to the people. They are also involved in tackling the dengue epidemic. Our forces are not only there to fight a war but also involved in delivering their responsibilities towards economic growth and social welfare”, he added.

As the dignitaries, parents of the dead war heroes and other invitees stood solemn at the war memorial in Parliament Grounds, the President appreciated the grand sacrifices made by the war heroes who had laid down their life and limb to safeguard the freedom, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country- the second time the country had to fight for freedom since 1948.

“As our country moved towards self-sufficiency in the mid 1970s, the terrorists of Eelam started a war, this was lasted 30 years. Our country was not ready for war then but our army, air force, police and navy faced it with much vigour and courage”, he said.

“We have had temporary setbacks over the years, and at times we had to invite the Indian government to intervene to stop our country from splitting in two. Though many thousands came to our country even they were not successful in defeating terrorism. And it was our soldiers who were trained and equipped locally who took the charge and defeated the terrorists”, the President said.

Having acknowledge the sacrifices made by the forces, the President assured that their welfare would always be looked after by the government, “We are at present trying to ensure that all war heroes are given a house”, he said.

Referring to the disabled soldiers of war, the President reassured them that as they carry the marks of war with them, the government would not forget them, “When we see them in our welfare centres and homes, we see their sacrifices and as a nation we offer our immense gratitude. You will be looked after”, emphasised the President.

(Source: Daily News – By Zahrah Imtiaz)