By Zahrah Imtiaz
Sixteen months after the communal riots in June 2014, Aluthgama saw the armed forces completely quitting the city yesterday (16) with a celebratory farewell from the town’s people. The Aluthgama Development Foundation (ADF), together with the residents of Aluthgama, hosted the tri forces to a dinner in appreciation of all the work they had done.
In July 2014, the government instructed the Army, Navy and Air Force to undertake reconstruction of the destroyed buildings in Beruwela, Dharga Town, Welipenna and Thunduwa.
ADF Chairman, Hussain Sadique, told Ceylon Today “the soldiers have been with us for over a year working on the project in addition to their normal duties. They have done a wonderful job and we thought that we too needed to show our appreciation to them”.
The ADF, founded after the riots, was one of the main institutions which handled resettlement in the towns.
He added that over time the soldiers had built relationships with the families they worked with to the pleasant surprise of all, “The families have even started to invite the soldiers to family functions”, he said.
In terms of the broken community ties in the aftermath of the riots, Sadique said that things were back to normal and that they bore no animosity towards their neighbours, “it was all done by outsiders”.
The ADF will be handing out certificates of appreciation and token gifts to over 600 soldiers who worked on the project while the senior officers will be presented with a plaque of appreciation.
The project was mainly handled by the Security Command-West, under Major General Ubaya Madawela.