Retired Army Chief Maj. Gen. Janaka Perera and UNP’s Chief Ministerial candidate for the North Central Province has rejected a four-man police squad offered by the government following reports of LTTE threats on his life.
The war veteran said the Ministerial Security Division (MSD) had discussed the deployment with him over the weekend but he turned down the offer. "This is an obvious face saving measure on the part of the government," he told The Island, urging the State to ensure his security in the run up to the August 23 NCP polls.
Vowing that he firmly believed in militarily crushing the LTTE, the former Ambassador said four police officers wouldn’t be able to handle his security. Asked to elaborate, he said his security contingent should be double in strength to that of UPFA Chief Ministerial candidate Berty Premalal Dissanayake’s group. He endorsed the ongoing efforts to destroy the LTTE while asserting the final solution as always articulated by the UNP should be political.
Perera, a professional soldier for 35 years, said his rival’s security contingent comprised 30 Signals Corps personnel, 28 police officers and 12 Civil Defence Force. The Signals Corps personnel aren’t the ordinary soldiers but well trained men in counter-terrorism operations. Dissanayake had been also provided with 12 vehicles, he said.
He called for a realistic security assessment without mixing politics with security issues.
The former General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the elite 53 Division said he wouldn’t dispute Dissanayake’s right to receive security. But the government should be alert to the security threat faced by the Opposition, he said. "Recently, police warned me of a severe threat to my life," he said, but unfortunately they had done absolutely nothing to thwart a possible LTTE attempt.
He said the Rajapaksa administration which had repeatedly vowed to destroy the LTTE couldn’t have been unaware of his contribution at the battlefield. "Troops under my command inflicted three major battlefield losses on the LTTE in 1995 in Ahchelu, Welioya and the Jaffna town," he said. They were some of the biggest losses suffered by the LTTE at that time, he asserted, adding Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and Army Commander Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka as officers who had fought alongside with him would know his role. The LTTE would also try to hunt down those who had inflicted losses on them, he said.
He said the defence of Jaffna after the fall of the strategic Elephant Pass base in April 2000, too, had been led by him and the present Army Commander who was then the Jaffna Security Forces Commander.
Perera said during his tenure as the Ambassador to Jakarta (May 2005-April 2007), the LTTE lost one of its top arms procurement agents based there.
Responding to our queries, Perera asserted the breakaway LTTE faction (TMVP) could target him in the NCP as they had fielded Mangala Master on the government ticket in the Polonnaruwa District. "We aware of the presence of some TMVP cadres in the Anuradhapura District," he said, warning their entry could jeopardise security in the entire area.
Perera who had qualified for university entry in 1966 to study Geology quit Peradeniya to join the army to complete a two-year basic Cadet course in Sandhurst. He also discussed the raising of the Independent Brigade comprising Special Forces and Commandos in 1990 which he commanded for four and half years and the Reserve Strike Force (53 Division) which he led for two and half years