Disabled soldier accused of tarnishing image of Army

The Army today accused a disabled soldier of attempting to tarnish the image of the Army.

The Army said that Lance Corporal H.A Heenbanda who turned disabled after injuries in the operations, was posted to the Yakkala Ranaviru Apparels factory for light duties and was also responsible as a subject clerk for accounts, related to the Sahana Welfare Loan project in the Yakkala Ranaviru Apparels factory.

During his stay there, the Directorate of Internal Audit of the Army in an auditing done, found out that a financial discrepancy had occurred in the Sahana Welfare Loan project, necessitating the appointment of a Court of Inquiry to look into all aspects of the matter.

Subsequent investigations confirmed both the officer in charge of the Sahana Welfare Loan project accounts and the subject, Lance Corporal H.A Heenbanda was directly responsible for the financial fraud, committed through the preparation of forged name lists of his fellow-soldiers in the factory.

During interrogations and his evidence, the said Court of Inquiry, unanimously decided to recover a missing sum of Rs 465,525/= from Lance Corporal H.A Heenbanda, which was also re-affirmed in the Commander’s conclusions.

As per those directions, Lance Corporal H.A Heenbanda had already paid a sum of Rs 250,000/= back to the Yakkala Ranaviru Apparels, out of the missing total of Rs 465,525/=.

This soldier, having received a 50% disability category in the Medical Board, had gone on retirement with a monthly salary plus a disability pension of Rs 65,597.56 on 26 August 2013.

Accordingly, steps were taken to deduct remaining dues of Rs 215,252/= from him to the said Sahana Welfare Loan project at Ranaviru Apparels from his gratuity payments, and he was subsequently intimated verbally and also in writing to report back to his mother unit for preparation of his final clearance process and settlement of other outstanding issues, including payment of his pension and gratuity allowances, but he has to-date failed to report to the Unit.

The Army says irrespective of the fraud he has already committed in the Sahana Welfare Loan project of his fellow-soldiers, the Army did not resort to any harsh disciplinary procedures against him, considering the nature of his disability.

In the wake of these developments, the Army says Lance Corporal H.A Heenbanda’s current course of conduct is meant publicly to ridicule the Army and tarnish its image. (Colombo Gazette)