Re-deployed deserter shoots himself

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 17 October 2000, 17:08 GMT]
A Sri Lanka army deserter who was arrested and sent to the front in Jaffna shot and killed himself Monday Police told a judge in the northern town Tuesday. The soldier, identified as H.P.S Mathusampa, was arrested in Colombo during a search operation for deserters in the city and had been posted two days ago to the Forward Defence Line in Irupaalai in the Kopay sector, north-east of Jaffna.

The soldier belonged to the Gajabha regiment of the Sri Lanka army. He was posted to a position that lies close to an area held by the Liberation Tigers north-east of Jaffna town.

The SLA says that it is short of manpower because more than twenty thousand soldiers who deserted its ranks are still at large. The Police and the army conduct regular combing operations in Sinhala majority districts of the island to arrest deserters. The government introduced tough laws against persons employing soldiers who have runaway from the army.

And numerous general amnesties have been offered by the SLA to woo back the absconding soldiers. Buddhist monks too recently joined the army's efforts to coax deserters back to their units.

But few soldiers have opted to come back voluntarily. The arrested men are usually sent to Jaffna because there is no way for them to escape from the peninsula.

Critics in the SLA argue that it is not good for general morale to redeploy arrested deserters among front line troops.


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