Court impounds Buddhist temple's van
[TamilNet, Wednesday, 07 April 1999, 19:26 GMT]
The Batticaloa district additional judge, K.Thadchanamoorthy, yesterday impounded a van belonging to Mangalaramaya, the Buddhist temple in Batticaloa as it had no documents showing its ownership, license, insurance, etc.,
He instructed that the van be held in the possession of the court until the necessary documents are produced.
The van was brought to the Batticaloa courts after the Sri Lankan Police searched the premises of the temple last morning to recover a Police uniform and other official paraphernalia belonging to a constable who was interdicted from service two months ago.
The constable is living in the temple under the patronage of its chief incumbent Ven. Yatiyaana Sri Pagnaloka Thero.
Two months ago, while in service, the policeman had stolen some goats from a person in Iruthayapuram, a suburb of Batticaloa, for which purpose he had used the van impounded by the judge today.
On a complaint by the owner of the goats, the Batticaloa Head Quarters Inspector (HQI) had interdicted the PC after an inquiry.
Since then the been looked after by the Buddhist priest who employs five other Sinhalese people at the temple. The PC had ignored many orders by the HQI to surrender his uniform, cap, number, special Police identity card etc., mainly on the strength of the Buddhist priest's patronage.
Yesterday, however, the Police searched the temple premises after informing the chief priest earlier in the morning. As they had found that the priest's van which had allegedly been used for stealing goats, had no documents to show its ownership, license, registration, insurance etc,. they took it to courts where it was impounded by the judge.
Court sources said that it was no surprise that in a town where every vehicle is checked at the numerous sentries in the town and its environs, the Buddhist priest has been able to go about in this van without being questioned by anyone.
"Can anyone dare to question a Sinhala Buddhist priest in a Tamil town?" asked one of them.
The priest came into the town with the SLA in late 1990 and has stayed on in Batticaloa. His temple caters to the SLA deployed in the district and the Police.
The Sri Lankan security forces are 98 percent Sinhala and 90 percent Buddhist.
The priest has been very critical of the Tamil paramilitary groups and Tamil government officials in Batticaloa in the past.