COLOMBO: Informed Sri Lankan sources told Express that there is no military significance attached to the five-day visit of the Indian Army chief ,Gen.Dalbir Singh Suhag, which began on Sunday.
Contrary to a news report emanating from India, the visit is not centered around any Lankan bid to get modern weaponry from India.
"At the most, Gen.Suhag may offer more seats for Lankan officers in Indian military training establishments," a leading Lankan military analyst said.
According to a ranking official, it is nostalgia which brings Gen.Suhag to Lanka.He had expressed a keen interest in visiting the various places in the Northern Province where he had served as a young Company Commander in the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) in the late 1980s, the official said.
After an initial round of meetings with Lankan military officials in Colombo on Monday, Gen.Suhag will be flying tp Jaffna on Tuesday. He would visit the Palaly Army and Air Force base; lay a wreath at the IPKF memorial at Palaly; and arrive in Jaffna for a brief halt. In the afternoon, he would fly to Mullaitvu and thence to Trincomalee in the Eastern Province.
No meetings are planned with the Chief Minister of the Northern Province,C.V.Wigneswaran.
Significance Of IPKF Memorial
The IPKF memorial at Palaly is of particular significance to Gen.Suhag because it commemorates the 29 soldiers of the 10 Para Commandos who were killed in a daring assault on the LTTE's Headquarters loctated in the Jaffna University football ground on October 12, 1987.
Gen.Suhag's unit, the 4 th Battalion of the 5 th.Gurkhas, was to come down from Kankesanthurai to Jaffna to join the battle.It was delayed en route but eventually it did join up with other units to capture Jaffna from the LTTE in Operation Pawan.
The 4th.Battalion of the 5 th.Gurkhas with young Suhag in it had seen action at several places in North Lanka including Mullaitivu.According to records, young Suhag had volunteered to serve with the IPKF leaving a comfortable job as Instructor in the Indian Military Academy at Dehra Dun.
On the Lankan visit, Gen.Suhag is being acompanied by Mrs.Suhag, a Major General, a Colonel and Captain.
If President Mathripala Sirisena is in Lanka in the next five days, Gen.Suhag will call on him.Sirisena, who is also Defence Minister, is currently in Malta for CHOGM. The Indian General would however meet Prime Minister Ranil Wickremedinghe, the Lankan Service Chiefs and the Defense Secretary.