Rehabilitation of army deserters

Thanks to the Prime Minister, the guns have gone silent in the North and East. But our worries are not yet over.

There is a huge wave of crimes which has engulfed our society. You open any newspaper and you can see literally hundreds of cases of rape, murder, abduction, robbery and extortion. Treasure hunters ransack the places of worship and even destroy the Buddha images!

As the death sentence is not implemented, contract killings are on the rise.

It is often reported that the army deserters are responsible for most of the above crimes. There are said to be about 35,000 or more army deserters.

Army deserters are young, strong and dangerous. They have received training in weapon handling. They are in need of money. Hence, they easily fall prey to underworld king pins and the powerful politicians. Or else, they may operate on their own, commit various crimes and live a very comfortable life.

Some of the army deserters would have left the services due to genuine reasons; such as sickness, family problems etc. Some of them are leading a very harmless life; cultivating their paddy fields. Hence we should not brand each and every army deserter "very dangerous". But there are some really bad eggs.

So far, no government has taken any meaningful steps to rehabilitate them. May be every government would have had its own supporters and hitmen among army deserters. Our society is so violent today mostly due to the army deserters. It is a big problem. It has become a cancer in our society. The social cost of this menace is enormous.

They do not pay any taxes though there is a lot of money in their hands. Their influence on the younger generation is extremely bad. No law abiding citizen can get about today due to various crimes. See what is happening to the young girls working in the free trade zone. No girl can wear a gold chain today. It will be snatched. We can go on and on like this. The list is long.

May I suggest that the Ministers of Defence and Social Services should implement very early a carefully designed plan to rehabilitate the army deserters.

Herman Rodrigo
Colombo 4