09th March 2018 16:34:19 Hours
Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake, Commander of the Army during his second day's stay in Kandy on Friday (9) while supervising security arrangements in place, took time off to speak to a cross section of Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim business community and attentively listened to their concerns in the aftermath of violence that affected general areas of Digana, Akurana, Galaha, Katugastota, Menikhinna, Ambetenna, Akurana, Poojapitiya and a few other places a few days ago.
He at first chaired a meeting of business entrepreneurs, attached to the Kandy Sinhala Businessmen's Association at their office premises and listened to their concerns, regarding eruption of violence and disruption of cordial relations that prevailed. Later on, the Commander met a joint gathering of Muslim and Tamil businessmen at the same venue with a view to receiving a firsthand account of their grievances and concerns.
Lieutenant General Senanayake in his reply explained how such emotional outbursts, most of which are sometimes based purely on rumour-mongering, gradually lead to bloodbaths, sabotaging efforts for promotion of ethnic harmony and reconciliation which we have begun after a period of bitter war fighting. He appealed to all three business communities to rise to the occasion as one united force and work out strategies to avoid such recurrence as a community of intelligent and broad-minded civilians since such narrow-minded eruptions should not be swelled out of control.
"Responsibility of restoration of peace is not a responsibility of the Security Forces and the Police alone. It also belongs to all of you, and we as Army troops reiterate our commitment to provide the best form of safety and security to all of you until normalcy is fully restored in your residential areas. We will ensure all your business establishments would equally be protected, and we would stand strong behind maintenance of peace in your cities and villages as expected. If necessary, I would take steps to bring in more reinforcements and strengthen your security further, I assure you", the Commander emphasized.
"It is also of paramount importance for you to come out with your own initiatives, new inputs and suggestions for prevention of such repetitions in the future. Security Forces would complete reconstruction of all damaged properties at least by the end of April with the funds, allocated by the government since a decision to that effect had already been taken as I understand. The Army is always ready to play a prominent role as far as the security of the country is concerned, and no one should entertain any doubt about it".
"Our hard-earned peace should be always upheld for the betterment of our nation and the future generation. We cannot inherit another bloodbath to the upcoming generation as responsible elders. Although state emergency is in force, the Security Forces are simply applying the minimum force with the intention of causing no inconvenience to anyone. We would be behind you whenever necessary".
Towards the end of those interactive meetings, the Commander invited them to raise any questions with regard to matters of concern to them, if any. Lifting of the curfew in Kandy municipality area and reconstruction of damaged properties, etc were among main issues, taken up by those representatives attending businessmen's meetings.
Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake after a while met the District Secretary for Kandy District at the District Secretariat and took up the concerns, expressed by businessmen earlier on the day for discussion.
Major General Rukmal Dias, Commander, Security Forces - Central and Major General Nissanka Ranawana, General Officer Commanding, 11 Division were also associated with some of those meetings.