War heroes and cramped camps

The Navy has been battling a rogue wave of coronavirus. Of about 1,045 Covid-19 cases, more than 578 are naval personnel. The vast majority of them are from the Welisara Navy base. It was first thought that the sailors who rounded up infected drug addicts had caused the spread of the diseases in the camp. But the members of the Army, the Air Force, the police and the Civil Defence Force have also been battling the virus from the front, and there has been no explosive spread of Covid-19 among them. The Army and the Police, in particular, have deployed many more personnel than the Navy to work with the frontline health workers. What went wrong with the SLN?

The sharp increase in the number of Covid-19 infections due to the rapid spread of the disease among the naval personnel led to the extension of lockdowns and curfews, especially in the Western Province, which is the economic hub of the country. It also plunged the country into a state of uncertainty, which caused the general election to be postponed further.

We reported, on Wednesday, that the cramped conditions at the Welisara Navy base might have contributed to the explosive spread of Covid-19, there. The Navy has moved an unspecified number of its personnel from the Welisara base due to congestion. Why has no action been taken, all these years, to develop this vital naval facility?

Political leaders never miss an opportunity to heap praise on the military personnel, whom they call war heroes. The question is why they have not developed the naval bases where some of these war heroes are stationed. The Army has had to accommodate some of the troops in schools as leave has been cancelled for all its members and the physical distancing rule has to be observed in camps.

The situation the armed forces are faced with may be unprecedented, but action should be taken to provide them with better facilities as a national priority. That is the least the country can do for them.

Be careful what you wish for

Former TNA MP M. A Sumanthiran and ex-Northern Province Chief Minister C. V. Wigneswaran have come under fire for their views on LTTE violence. The former has provoked the ire of the pro-LTTE groups, who rake him over the coals for being critical of the LTTE’s violent campaign, during a recent TV programme. Wigneswaran has incurred the wrath of the victims of LTTE by praising the outfit. He seems to have forgotten the fate that befell the TULF leaders who affectionately called Prabhakaran and his cadres ‘boys’ and created their Frankenstein. The intelligent are said to learn from others’s experience.

Anyone who endorses horrible acts such as massacring civilians, abducting children and turning them into cannon fodder, eliminating dissenters physically, bombing civilian targets, exacting protection money, etc., he or she should spend a lot of time on a psychiatrist’s couch. All violent outfits flaunt some socio-political or religious causes in a bid to legitimise their terrorism. Those who have the courage to condemn the use of terrorism as a means to an end deserve commendation and not condemnation.

What would happen to the politicians who are praising Prabhakaran if the LTTE re-emerged and resumed its violence? They would be left with no alternative but to follow orders from the outfit again or face violent deaths; the TNA, which is championing human rights, would have to function as the LTTE’s mouthpiece again and abandon its campaign for a war crimes probe, for the LTTE has also been accused of having committed such atrocities.

Wigneswaran, having fallen out with the TNA, may be trying to gain some traction on the political front before the next general election by praising the LTTE. But if he really misses the LTTE, he had better be careful what he wishes for; he may just get it. He ought to remember the tragic end that awaited those who, like the lady of Niger, rode the Tiger, which returned with them inside and a big smile on its face.