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Desertions plague Lankan army

world Updated: Feb 08, 2011 00:43 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

The Sri Lanka army (SLA) has stepped up efforts to tackle the high rate of desertion from its ranks.

On Monday, 600 deserters responded to a call given by the army to apply for a clearance to either rejoin after being absent without leave or resign legally.

“This scheme was announced to coincide with the celebrations of the 63rd Independence Day on February 4. They (the deserters) have time till February 12 to respond,’’ major general Ubaya Medawala said.

There are more than 50,000 deserters from the army, which currently has 210,000 personnel. “The number of desertion swelled through the years of the war. Most cases of desertions were because of personal reasons like family disputes...,’’ Medawala said.

During the war, the army also announced amnesty schemes for deserters who could resign without being punished. Since November 2010, military police have arrested 10 officers and 4,150 soldiers and booked them under the Army Act.