‘I was hounded like a pickpocket’ - Army Commander



BY Harischandra Gunaratna

Army Commander Lt Gen Mahesh Senanayake on Friday said that he had been hounded like a pickpocket by certain elements in the pre- January 2010 period,

Lt Gen Senanayake,who assumed duties as the 22nd Commander of the Army in July, addressing a felicitation organised by the 75-80 Group of Old Anandians at the Kingsbury Hotel said, " It was a period of terror and the circumstances had forced me to be away from the country, leaving family and friends for five-years working in Iraq and Afghanisthan,"

He said " I was undaunted and I didn’t know what fear was, but I too had a family and I had to leave the country."

" I never took sides and I did my duty without fear or favour but those elements were hounding me. I kept my calm and faced the situation and I knew who was right and today I stand before you as the Commander of the Army,"

I was never engaged in politics in the Army and I didn’t have to stoop to that level, the Commander said.

"The values inculcated in me by my parents and discipline given at Ananda College immensely helped me face the trying situation and cultivate a balanced mind.

The Commander who topped his batch as an officer cadet at the Army Training School at Diyatalwa spoke of how fellow cadets Jagath Rambukpotha and Jagath Alwis along with Jagath Dias from a senior batch had provided him all the encouragement and the morale to achieve tasks.

The trio of Jagaths from Ananda ended up as Majors General later with both Dias and Rambukpotha becoming Chiefs of Staff.

Lt Gen Senanayake a top athlete and cadet , paid a glowing tribute to his mentor at Ananda, the former Principal charismatic Col G.W .Rajapakse who advised him to pursue a career in the military.

The President of Old Aandians Group 75-80 Piyal Munasinghe presented Lt Gen Senanayake with a replica of the Ananda College shrine room as a memento.

Lt Gen Senanayake is the fifth Anandian to be appointed Army Commander with others being Lt Generals Hamilton Wanasinghe, Rohan de S.Daluwatte, Lionel Balagalle and Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka.

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