Disabled soldiers as a political tool | Daily News

Disabled soldiers as a political tool

The Army has quite rightly taken exception to certain politically motivated elements engaging disabled War Heroes, or, their family members in street protests on the pretext of these disabled soldiers not been granted their dues by the government. Such acts are not only a slur on the army as a whole, which is held in almost reverence today by the populous for it’s role in securing the territorial integrity of the country, but is also demeaning, in that soldiers are known for their sacrifices made on behalf of the country rather than being supplicants, expecting benefits from the state. Fighting for one’s country is reward enough, most would argue, though soldiers too have got to live and deserve all largess that the state could shower on them.

Army Headquarters, issuing a statement, says that most of the issues raised at these demonstrations had, indeed, been resolved to a large extent and regretted that some politically motivated elements, with vested interests, are found to be behind regularly organised street protests featuring disable War Heroes or their families. The insinuation is quite clear and the target unmistakable. The Joint Opposition has been shamelessly using these disabled War Heroes in its political project to enthrone the Rajapaksas in the seats of power, once again, and, it would stop at nothing, including manipulating the plight of disabled soldiers to achieve its vile ends.

The JO stalwarts are well aware that disabled soldiers strike an emotive chord with the larger populace and is exploiting these sentiments to the hilt. Like the army says, if the majority of the issues confronting these disabled soldiers have been resolved, one can only come to the conclusion that these hapless individuals are dragged onto the streets for no other reasons than political. What the JO intends is provoke a retaliation from the police, as happened recently, when teargas was fired at a group of protesting disabled soldiers, resulting in one of them being injured in the eye. The JO seized on the opportunity to parade this victim before the media, and, accused the government of deliberately unleashing the police on the War Heroes. That, this is a politically motivated exercise is also clear by the fact that a disabled soldier who is also a lawyer, is acting as a front man, espousing the cause of his colleagues, in unmistakable anti-government tones. He is often seen in the company of JO worthies at press conferences spewing venom at the government.

There are also many disabled soldiers, in the lineup of candidates contesting the upcoming local government elections, from the pohottuwa. It is strange for the JO to field such individuals after claiming that the general state of decay and disarray in the towns and villages, and, the chief reasons for the spread of dengue due to garbage accumulation was the absence of able bodied local councillors to attend to these matters, due to the non-holding of LG elections. How disabled soldiers will fit the bill to shoulder these tasks, only the likes Gammanpila and Weerawansa will be able to explain.

With LG elections only two weeks away, one cannot discount another bout of street protests by the disabled War Heroes, masterminded by the Rajapaksas, with a view to provoking police retaliation. The government ought to be alive to these machinations and issue the necessary instructions to the police against precipitate action. This is just what the JO is banking upon, so that it’s personages could weep buckets for the War Heroes, never mind that the foremost War Hero among them was unceremoniously thrown in the slammer by the Rajapaksas, with nary whimper made by the pro-Rajapaksa bikkhu brigade, who have today gone bananas over War Heroes.

Besides, the war ended in 2009 and, thus, all the issues faced by these disabled soldiers had been left unattended in the intervening period. What were those, now accusing the government of neglecting the War Heroes, doing then? Where were these good Samaritans when our War Heroes were forced to man vegetable stalls and sweep the streets in the city? It is time someone in the government expose these hypocrites, lest their conduct go by default.

In no other country in the world, has the army been used as a political tool, as done in sunny Sri Lanka. Similarly, in no other country has the military been given a clean bill of health, even in the face of the worst villainy, as in Sri Lanka. For the Weerawansas and Gammnapilas, the members of the security forces could do no wrong. Today, the newspapers are full of accounts of serving, or, ex-soldiers being involved in serious crime, such as murder, robbery and rape. When arrests are made, this constitutes a witch-hunt against the War Heroes, in the book of JO personages. While the nation is indebted to the valiant men who fought the enemy on the battlefield, and, protected the country’s sovereignty, it need not be emphasized that the law should take its normal course and applies to the armed forces too - ‘War Heroes’ or otherwise. 


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