Our troops who were on the Forward Defense Lines at the height of the conflict against brutal and ruthless terrorism had no certainty of even returning to their bunkers alive. It was to pay our tribute to the heroic forces who made such sacrifices that President Mahinda Rajapaksa, as a leader who valued gratitude for service of the country, had launched the “Api Venuven Api” war heroes housing programme, said Mr. Lalith Weeratunga, Secretary to the President.
He was speaking at the ceremony to hand over ownership of houses to War Heroes at the 8th phase of the “Api Venuven Api” housing programme at Nugawela, Rambukkana, yesterday (March 17). The ownership of the houses to the War Heroes as handed over by President Rajapaksa.
The immense affection and respect that President Rajapaksa had for the troops of the nation could be further seen by the President’s laudable initiatives to establish projects such a s”Abhimansala” to serve the needs of body and mental health relief and assistance to the disabled veterans of the battle to bring freedom to the country, Mr. Weeratunga said.
Citing examples of what President Rajapaksa had said as a Member of Parliament, Minister, Leader of the Opposition and Prime Minister before his election as President, Mr. Weeratunga said these showed the deep understanding and far-sighted wisdom of the President on issues of importance to the country and people. With his experience in the Public Service of 30 years where he had experience of promises made by many politicians, he saw President Rajapaksa as a great and unrivalled leader who had delivered on every promise had had made to the people.
Commenting on the activities of conspiratorial forces working against Si Lanka at Geneva today, he expressed immense dissatisfaction at those who considered the freeing of Sri Lanka from terrorism as a fault, and sought to punish the county for this defense of freedom. When No Fire Zones were established to save the Tamil civilians who were caught in the clutches of terror, the terrorists had targeted those zones too with their artillery, and the government had carried out an unquestioned humanitarian operation to free those Tamil civilians, he said.
Mr. Weeratunga further said that in the Humanitarian Operation launched to free the entire country from terrorism, President Rajapaksa had been unshaken in the face of much local and foreign pressure against the country at the time, and consequently we are able to live as a free and independent country today. Explaining the major steps being taken to achieve economic progress today, he said the country should be proud at having a leader of such capability and devotion to the nation at a crucial time such as this.
The troops in the battle against terror had their spirits raised and morale boosted by having a military leader of the caliber of Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who knew the real feelings of troops as Defense Secretary, who had empathy towards them, and this too was a great fortune for the country.