Demilitarisation won’t be an issue-GoSL
Tomorrow’s Indo-Lanka talks:June 27, 2012, 9:54 pm
By Shamindra Ferdinando
Demilitarisation of the Northern Province, particularly the Jaffna Peninsula, couldn’t be an issue any longer due to re-deployment of troops since the conclusion of the conflict in May, 2009, a senior government official said.
The strength of the army in the Jaffna peninsula was now down to three Divisions comprising 15,600 officers and men deployed in the Jaffna, Elephant Pass and Vadamaratchchy sectors, the official said. He was responding to a query by The Island ahead of Friday’s one-on-one discussions between Indian Defence Advisor Shivshankar Menon and President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Defence Secretary, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa in Colombo.
In December 2009, the army had over 27,000 men, but troops have quit many areas under a phased withdrawal of Jaffna High Security Zones on a directive given by the Defence Secretary.
The phased withdrawal of the Jaffna HSZ began on Oct. 28, 2010 with troops vacating a part of Vasavilan. In the second stage, troops handed over Ilavali North, Ilavali North West and Viththakapuram on Nov. 27, 2010. Troops gave up Naguleshwaram, Telippalai, Thanneiselvapuram, Maviddapuram, Maviddapuram South, Palaivikaman North, Palaivikaman South and Kadduvan West on May 9, 2011 in the third stage.
Thereafter, the army vacated Kurumpasiddy and Kurumpasiddy East on October 6, 2011. The final stage of troops withdrawal paved the way for civilians to return to Valalai and Ideikadu on November 29, 2011.
The Indian High Commission quoted Indian Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai as having said, following a recent one-on-one between Indian PM Dr. Manmohan Singh and President Rajapaksa in Rio on June 21, on security related issues, they noted that their dialogue would be taken forward on Friday.
A spokesperson for the Indian High Commission yesterday declined to comment on issues which could come up for discussion on Friday. He said that a statement would be made late Friday afternoon following the conclusion of the deliberations.
Menon, one-time Indian HC in Colombo, is expected to arrive tomorrow evening. He would leave immediately after the conclusion of the meetings.
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