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Lt Gen Sarath Fonseka, LTTE's nemesis
February 02, 2009
'I strongly believe that this country belongs to the Sinhalese but there are minority communities and we treat them like our people. We being the majority of the country (75 per cent), we will never give in and we have the right to protect this country. They can live in this country with us. But they must not try to, under the pretext of being a minority, demand undue things,' said Lt Gen Sarath Fonseka, in an interview with Canadian magazine National Post on September 23, 2008.
Could a general in the Indian Army [Images] ever have made a statement to this effect? Lt Gen Sarath Fonseka is no ordinary general. He is the army commander in the Sri Lanka [Images]n army and the man leading the military offensive in north Sri Lanka, which has virtually decimated Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the world's most-dreaded guerrilla force today.
So who is this man? After surviving an attempt on his life in 2006 by LTTE, Fonseka is one of the rare officers of the Sri Lankan army who returned, vowing to hunt the organisation down.
The way the war is being run is both simple and ingenious. Having blocked LTTE's access to the sea and sweeping it from the northern plains, the army has now succeeded in boxing it into a 300 sq km jungle from which there is no way out.
You could argue about this but what is clear is that the pursuit of the military solution against a guerrilla group has resulted in the Sri Lankan society becoming so militarised that the straight-talking bluff soldier is not without critics.
Lankan newspapers slammed the recent purchase by the army of a new Mercedes Benz W221 (2006) S350L for its "senior leadership" even as soldiers were dying in the north. They also noted that when it came to nominating officers for service rewards last year, Fonseka recommended just one person for the highest Sri Lankan military honour, the Vishishta Seva Vibushanaya -- and that was himself.
There is no doubt that Fonseka is a fearless soldier, and no diplomat -- the government had to apologise recently over his remark, referring to politicians in Tamil Nadu as "jokers".
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