Nearly 60,000 deserters at large, Govt. tells Parliament

Saturday, 25 January 2014 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Ashwin Hemmathagama Our Lobby Correspondent With the war coming to an end in 2009, an alarming 59,267 military personnel and 239 officers have deserted the three armed forces – Army, Navy, and Air Force – without following proper procedure. The Government told Parliament yesterday that “personal issues of these service men” as the main cause, which resulted in them avoiding the following of proper procedures to exit and also to serve “prior notice”. Elaborating on the action taken against these deserters, the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development informed Parliament yesterday that warrants were being issued to the relevant Police Divisions where the deserters belong, with the aim of arresting them. Some of the arrested will be reinstated in service, making it easy to take disciplinary action against them, prior to being dismissed from the respective forces. To prevent deserters from leaving the country, the Department of Immigration and Emigration has been informed, the Ministry stated in response to a question for oral answers raised by UNP MP Ravi Karunanayake. In order to prevent such issues in the future, the Government plans to monitor the problems of service personnel and take them into serious consideration, which will enable some “to get transferred to the nearest camps as a solution, get better food, healthcare facilities, leave, and transport facilities” in addition to being spoken to on the advantages of being a member of the armed services in Sri Lanka. Moving on to the benefits, the Ministry said 7,029 military personnel had benefited from the proposals in Budget 2012, which provided a grant for those who had a third child. According to the Ministry, Rs. 702.9 million was disbursed among these service personnel in the form of an allowance.