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Mahinda Rajapaksa's son joins Sri Lankan Navy

The Sri Lankan president has set an example by sending his second son Yoshitha Rajapaksa to the forces, reports PK Balachandran.

india Updated: Dec 18, 2006 11:38 IST

In a move which has great symbolic value in present-day Sri Lanka, President Mahinda Rajapaksa's second son Yoshitha joined the Sri Lankan Navy last week amid much media fanfare.

Involved in a fight-to-the-finish against the LTTE, and constantly motivating his countrymen to support him in this grim task unreservedly, President Rajapaksa has set an example by sending his own son to the forces.

Opponents of the 24 year old war have always charged that those who order the war keep their sons and other kith and kin out of it, and send poor village lads to face the bullets and bombs in the battlefields of the North and East.

Even Velupillai Prabhakaran, the LTTE Supremo, has not sent his son or daughters to the battlefront.

The Tiger chieftain's children are believed to be pursuing education abroad while his men abduct poor, rural Tamils' children for training them to be soldiers.

He has been a butt of ridicule and jokes about this in South Sri Lanka.

According to the media, it had been Yoshitha Rajapaksa's long-standing wish to be in the Sri Lanka Navy, which incidentally, is now playing a key role in containing the Tigers.

When he was a child he had dressed up as a naval officer for a fancy dress parade. And according to the state-owned Daily News the lad had been a sharp shooter bagging many prizes in rifle shooting competitions during his school career.

The Rajapaksa family is no stranger to the forces. Yoshitha's maternal grandfather EP Wickremasinghe was a Commander in the Navy and Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, his father's brother and the present Defence Secretary, was an Army officer earlier.

First Published: Dec 18, 2006 11:30 IST