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Army human element saves teenage cadre's life

Army's human element saves teenage cadre's life

(By: Shanika Sriyananda)

She could have breathed her last in a few minutes or would have been tucked with other dead bodies of her colleagues. Found among 17 dead bodies, she sustained serious injuries in the stomach and the left arm, but yet had the luck to live, thanks to the keen eyes of a soldier, who is fighting a battle to liberate thousands of Tamils from the brutal clutches of LTTE.

The fighting escalated at 5.30 am on last November 1, as the LTTE was still holding ground at the A 32 Road towards Pooneryn. An eight man team of the Delta Company of the 11th Sri Lanka Light Infantry at the Task Force 1, led by Captain Lalantha Collurage was taking their maximum effort to capture the LTTE bunkers at Paddaruyal Villu between the 10th and 11th mile posts which is three and half kms East of the Ponneryn - Mannar main road. After hours of long heavy fighting using RPG attacks, the team managed to gain control of the location in the wee hours killing 17 LTTE cadres.

While recovering dead bodies of the LTTE, soldiers found a female cadre left with serious injuries and heavily bleeding. The field medics gave her first aid. After regaining consciousness she pleaded with the soldiers to give her some water. Later, she asked something to eat saying they were left without food for days. Honouring the moral values, the soldiers did not let her die and they treated her as one of their colleagues and was given saline. She was then brought to the nearest medical dressing station where she was treated. This girl who was found lying unconsciously among the other dead bodies was in a trench. Formally she was a cadre of the 'Yal-Selvam Paddai' and later attached to the 'Malathi' regiment. She was a resident at Mulankavil before being abducted by the LTTE. Trained in Jaffna, the 18-year-old girl was brought to Paddaruyal Villu from Muhamalai forcibly. She was blindfolded along with few other female cadres and just dropped at the battlefronts and forced to fight with the advancing Security Forces.

The girl with her norm de guerilla 'Priya' was abducted by the LTTE few months ago and was given a crash training on weapon handling and basic battle training. She knew nothing about the strength or the fighting capacity of the Security Forces. The teenage girls and boys were shown heroic pictures of the LTTE cadres and had been misled by saying that the LTTE would confront any battle against the Security Forces. The young cadres were given an assurance that the LTTE would win the battle and they are on a winning path. The LTTE, in the verge of extinction, is still continuing forcible child recruitment unabatedly also sowing seeds of hatred and separatism within the Wanni Tamil community who are denied all possible communication links to know the truth about the battle. The LTTE still maintains the human shield, according to information, and is using cruel punishments against those who try to flee the non-liberated areas. The outfit does not spare even 10-year-olds and the sources said the LTTE terrorists are now abducting even small children for military fatigue while the other cadres are being sent to battle fronts.

According to the sources, the LTTE is using the tactic of deploying new recruits along the frontlines who were brought blindfolded with less acquaintance of the terrain and left with no other option except to fight for their survival against the advancing troops. This tactic of the senior LTTE cadres using 'sacrifice of junior numbers' as an instrument to sustain their own demise, has brought much controversy triggering frustration and disgust among its grass-root ranks. Priya had grenades and she did not bite the cyanide as she wanted to live. Priya's story will be the best example to show the difference between a professional army and a terrorist organisation. During the Thoppigala operation, Sergeant K.G. Priyantha Pathirana was found with serious injuries and was taken into LTTE as a POW. The LTTE terrorists, including female cadres, treated him in an inhuman way before his neck was cut while he was struggling for life. Later his head was displayed at the Illupadichenai junction. But, the fate of Priya turned a new leaf in her life and she will live to tell the difference.

The mission to rescue another 'human' in the battlefront was a success due to the immediate action by the Task Force -1 troops and 58 Division Commander Brigadier Shavendra Silva. The teenager was given a new lease of life. It will be a showpiece to tell the world that Sri Lanka is carrying out a humanitarian operation and not a battle against those who were misled by the LTTE. Not only Priya but many LTTE cadres who crossed to the liberated areas with serious injuries, were also given medical treatment like the soldiers wounded in the battlefronts.

The highly disciplined soldiers carried Priya, more than a kilometer from the point that they were fighting, to save the life of another human being. They did not disregard international humanitarian laws and even the soldiers in the front lines are well aware about those values - not to kill even an enemy who is fighting for life. Suffering from internal hemorrhage, Priya was carried in a stretcher to the nearest Medical Dressing Station (MDS) where she was given prompt treatment.

Then she was transported in an ambulance for over eight kms to the main MDS where the military doctors of the Task Force -1 gave her treatment for abdominal injuries.

Giving top priority, the teenage female cadre was airlifted to the Anuradhapura General Hospital for further treatment as she was badly injured. She was later transferred to the National Hospital - Colombo, for further treatments. Priya now awaits a new begining of freedom and life with the same 'foe' she was earlier forced to fight with. Destiny has pronounced well as Priya was saved and given a new hope of life by the same people whom she was taught (by LTTE) 'cruel' and 'aggressive' to her community.

Courtesy : Sunday Observer

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