Let’s be grateful to Security Forces | Page 3 | Sunday Observer

Let’s be grateful to Security Forces

3 May, 2020

Whenever Sri Lanka has faced any calamity, it is the Security Forces that have come forward bravely to assure safety and security to the country and its people. Be it man-made or natural, they have taken every possible risk and sacrificed their lives on many occasions so that others may live. Their selfless service has helped Sri Lanka to face many a storm, literally and figuratively.

It is not possible to begin at one particular point when it comes to their service to the Motherland, but the 30-year-war is a case in point. Thousands of service personnel made the Supreme Sacrifice while thousands more lost their eyesight, hearing and limbs. They ultimately triumphed over terrorism more than 10 years ago and gave us a brighter future.

When the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami battered Sri Lanka, it was the Security Forces who were in the forefront of rescue and relief efforts. Whenever floods, landslides, droughts and other natural disasters befall the country, they are the first on the scene. When the Easter bombings happened last year, they managed to defuse several other bombs in time and save possibly thousands more lives. Their contribution to the Motherland cannot thus be described in a few words.

It was therefore natural that they would be in the forefront of the battle against the novel Coronavirus that has now engulfed the whole world. In fact, they are the next line of defence after the health personnel, and both categories face the immense risk of contracting the dreaded disease themselves.

It is in this context that we should appreciate the services rendered to the anti-Covid-19 drive by the Security Forces and of course, the Police/STF. The Navy personnel who got infected contracted the virus in the course of their duty. They knowingly took the risk in order to minimise the risk of a wider spread of the disease. The Government has now taken all possible steps to stem the spread of the virus from the infected individuals in the Navy.

It is therefore heartbreaking to see reports that some of the Navy personnel and their families have been cast aside and disparaged by their neighbours and others. This has prompted Defence Secretary Maj. Gen. (Rtd) Kamal Gunaratne to appeal to the public to treat Tri Forces personnel with respect and gratitude as they are working tirelessly to control the spread of the Coronavirus.

He noted that with the spread of Covid-19 throughput the world, in Sri Lanka too the infected cases gradually began rising. At that point the Tri Forces worked hand in hand with the health services to handle those infected and those in quarantine. Based on the directives of the President all service personnel were brought back to their camps and all their leave cancelled. He urged the public not to forget that soldiers, sailors, airmen and Police/STF personnel are working tirelessly for the people of the country. “I would like to remind that these Tri Forces personnel got infected by trying to safeguard the others in society. We must show some compassion and gratitude as they have got infected by trying to safeguard others in society.”

This is indeed an apt message at this time when the health personnel, Forces personnel and essential services personnel are working round the clock to contain this disease, under the able guidance of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and other relevant persons and organisations. Society must fully cooperate with these persons and organisations to contain the disease, lest it spread and cause havoc like it has done in many developed countries where thousands are still dying daily.

Our anti-Coronavirus drive would not have been this successful without the active involvement of another sector of the Security Forces who do a silent service – the Intelligence personnel. It was due to their 24/7 tireless efforts that the authorities could do a very good job regarding “contact tracing” – finding the first, second and even the third ring contacts of any Covid-19 positive individuals. This is an exhausting, thankless job that may have already saved hundreds, if not thousands of lives. And they continue this painstaking process even as we write this.

One must remember that the intelligence service was practically decimated by the previous Yahapalanaya regime, leading to the huge intelligence failures associated with the Easter Sunday bomb attacks exactly a year ago. (Foreign intelligence agencies had however warned of the attacks though the then leadership took no notice). In fact, one of the first tasks that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa accomplished upon being elected in November 2019 was revamping the Intelligence Services to meet modern challenges such as cross border terrorism, human trafficking, narcotics trafficking and other eventualities like the present pandemic. This has paid off in spades in the present context.

Let us also pause for a moment to think that the Forces and Police have to engage in this battle with an unseen enemy while fulfilling all their normal obligations, from manning checkpoints to nabbing narcotics smugglers. For example, the Police have made huge strides in their probe into the Easter attacks. The Navy has seized thousands of kilos of drugs on the high seas. The Air Force regularly conducts aerial surveillance of the maritime borders. The Army is bolstering up safety measures throughout the country. It is not an easy task under these extraordinary circumstances. Let us all express our gratitude to these heroes from the bottom of our hearts.