By P.K. Balachandran
To nip the politicization of the Sri Lankan navy in the bud, Lankan naval authorities on Monday commenced disciplinary action against four navy rugby players who wore armbands showing solidarity with Lt.
Yoshitha Rajapaksa, the incarcerated naval officer son of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa who is currently heading the “Joint Opposition Group” in Parliament.
Navy spokesman Capt. Akram Alavi told Express that the four players have been suspended from the Navy’s rugby squad, and disciplinary action initiated against them. The four players had worn armbands bearing the number “Yo-07”, which was Yoshitha’s number when he was a member of the team.
Lt. Rajapaksa, second son of the former president, was a star player for the Navy till he was arrested last month on a charge of money laundering in his capacity as the de facto director of the sports and entertainment firm, Carlton Sports Network (CSN).
The Lankan armed forces have for the most part been apolitical and loyal to the political authority since the country’s independence in 1948. But in 1962, there was a serious attempt at a coup by a combination of navy, army and police officers led by the then Navy chief, Rear Adm.Royce de Mel. The plot was discovered at the eleventh hour and the conspirators were arrested, tried and punished.
The so-called “Toilet Coup” of 1966, supposedly led by the then Army commander Maj. Gen. Richard Udugama, proved to be a hoax. All the alleged plotters were acquitted and subsequently rewarded with promotions and high government posts.
After the successful conclusion of the Eelam War IV in 2009, the then president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, suspected that the then Army chief Lt. Gen.Sarath Fonseka was planning a coup. Gen. Fonseka was arrested in February 2010, charged on various counts and jailed until international pressure forced the president to release him in May 2012.
As in 1966, the allegation that the Army chief was going to stage a coup proved to be unfounded.
Courtesy:New Indian Express