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Buddhists Heritage in Jaffna Vandalised by Tamil Extremists

(Courtesy of Divaina)

The TNA MPs and some of their instigated supporters have created a rumpus, protesting and disturbing the duties of the Archeological department offices who visited the ancient Buddhist vihara, that has been declared an Archeological site, in the proximity of the hot water wells located in Kinniya, in the Trincomalee district. This was done by staging a claim that this site belongs to Hindus and what is there in that site is a Hindu Kovil.

In this, it is an accepted fact that once the Sinhalese Buddhist left this area during the terrorist disturbances,  during which village and villages of Sinhalese were slaughtered by the LTTE with the sole intention of declaring a homogenous state in the North and East of the country, some Tamils had erected an unauthorized Kovil in a makeshift hut in this premises. It is also a well-known fact that during those thirty years, the LTTE issued ‘tickets’ to the tourist and southerners who visited this extraordinary site and made money which they used for the purpose of waging a war against the state.

However, the fact of the matter is, when the site in which the remains of the dilapidated kovil was excavated, there emerged some unmistakable items of an ancient Buddhist temple that included a Sanadakada pahana(ancient threshold mat of a Buddhist temple)) and a base of a pagoda. Further the inscriptions unearthed during this excavation revealed in no uncertain terms that there had been a Buddhist temple in this site erected by King Bhathika Tissa between 143 – 167 AD.  This is not a myth or propaganda churned out by the Government or the Sinhalese but an indelible fact of history unearthed after 1900 years. Since this temple had been established parallel to the Wilgam Royal temple of the same era, located in the proximity, the Government had declared this site an archeological monument by gazette notification no. 1723 dated 9th November 2011.

Thus,  it is in keeping with his duty, that the Commissioner General of Archeology had initiated conservation activity on this site as per the Archeology act. No. 9 of 1940.

However, in such a contest it is ironical to note the protests, and the disturbances to duty, carried out by the TNA and its supporters without a basis for such protests and also disregarding the agreements reached on this subject with the government at a prior instance.

This actions of the TNA and its supporters appear even more incongruous when viewed from the light that the Government had already issued permission for the Hindus to erect a Kovil at this site for their religious observances.

However, the issue at stake here is that it has become a pattern to construct Hindu temples and Islamic mosques on archeological sites all over the Northern and the Eastern provinces. What is happening today at Mullaitivu, Nayaru- Gurukande is another example that supports this high handed and unilateral activity. There, a Hindu kovil is being built on the ruins of a Buddhist temple, The dispute at Kuragal is another case in point. Therefore it is no longer possible to be silent in the face of such aggression and wonton actions that create religious and social antipathy in a pluralistic society.

Similarly, when it was very clear that the Buddhist heritage is evident at Guru kande, a Kovil had been built within the premises making it difficult to hold Buddhist religious rites such as Katina Pooja in the premises. Therefore it would be a matter of interest to inquire into the intentions of these persons who conduct themselves in such a way to provoke religious and communal disturbances in the country. It is unfortunate that the Human Rights groups are also choosing to remain silent in the face of such deliberate acts of aggression as it has always been the pattern in the past to earn propaganda mileage by these minority groups  ( often with the help of Human Right activists) when communal and religious disturbances occur as a result of these provocations.

In another instance. it is distressing to note that these ‘other religionist’ have come to control the Okanda Shrine at Panama that was patronized by the Buddhist in the area till recently. The Hindus in the area had systematically come into occupation of this shrine which belonged in the Muthubanda generation, upon the death of Muthubanda, his brother and the two sons. Today the massive residential halls erected by the Hindu priest who have come to possess the Okada shrine have even encroached on the Kumana bird sanctuary which is a sanctuary created under the Wildlife ordinance. Further they are erecting another place of worship close to the Kumbukkan Oya without obtaining permission for its construction from the authorities.  It is also leaned from responsible sources that in the guise of these religious activity some illegal human settlements are being erected within the Kumana sanctuary, just as it was done in the Wilpattu sanctuary.

It is indeed a national calamity that the country’s forest cover, in addition to Buddhist places of worship,  has been encroached upon by the Hindus and Muslims with political patronage dangling the carrot of ‘votes at the next election’, with absolute disregard to the country’s law and harmony. Thus, it is no longer possible for the media to remain silent in the face of these unilateral, illegal and provocative activities even though some vested interests in the society are attempting to interpret such exposure as ‘Racist’.  Therefore we will make it loud and clear to those vested interests that even though this paper, ‘Divaina,’ stands for national unity and reconciliation it’s stand against encroachment, provocation and destruction of the country’ heritage is equally steadfast.

Therefore, it is not necessary to stress any further the purity of Nayaru, Gurukande, Kuragala and Kinnya as places of Buddhist worship. The TNA MPs, the ‘Reconciliation’ Ministers and other Religious dignitaries should respect such factual exposures. Such comparisons and lines of understandings and respect for each other is especially necessary in the present context where the international is aiming to profit from our disunity.

Today, in a situation where the international powerhouses like America, Japan, China and India are aiming, with ulterior motives, to plant their presence in this country expressing unbridled love for the country’s people, it would be in the interest of every community, whether minority or majority, to ensure unity and corporation among the people of this country. It is indeed a fallacy to believe that these internationalist will love ‘one community more than the other’ and therefore any community that indulges in such delusions of grandeur will soon realize their mistake, albeit too late.




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