By Shamindra Ferdinando
The Sri Lankan government wouldn’t accept the transfer of military officers, now studying at the prestigious Defence Services Staff College (DSSC), at Wellington, Tamil Nadu to any other facility, Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa told The Island yesterday.
Defence Secretary was responding to the ongoing protests in Tamil Nadu against the Indian Central Government accommodating two Sri Lankan officers at Wellington.
Asked whether the issue had been discussed with India, the Defence Secretary emphasised that Sri Lanka was not amenable to the proposed transfer of officers to another institute. He said that Sri Lanka would probably have to recall the officers unless they could continue the one-year-long course at Wellington.
In the wake of protests involving 15 political parties, including the MDMK, outside the Defence Services Staff College, demanding that the officers be sent back home, India has proposed to move them to the Military Instituteof Technology in Pune.
The ongoing protest campaign is led by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa.
Wing Commander M. S. Bandara Dassanayake and Major C. S. Harishchandra Hettiarachchige are at the DSSC.
Responding to a query, the Defence Secretary said that he, too, had followed a one-year course at Wellington from Dec. 1982 to Dec. 1983 which was offered to mid-career officers. The Defence Secretary accused pro-LTTE elements of trying to undermine Indo-Lanka relations. He acknowledged that termination of the ongoing courses for Sri Lankans at the DSSC would be a serious setback, particularly at a time defence cooperation was a priority.
According to him, those who had been sent to the DSSC were the alumni of the Defence Services Command and Staff College (DSCSC).
Pakistan, Bangladesh and the US are among major sponsors of courses for the Sri Lankan militar(the Island)