Pilgrims to Paalaitheevu St. Antony’s church suspect presence of Chinese navy
[TamilNet, Sunday, 07 March 2010, 15:11 GMT]
Pilgrims who returned from Paalaitheevu after attending the lent period prayers in St. Antony’s church Sunday said that they had seen many Chinese Tents and food packets with Chinese writing on them during the annual festival held Saturday and Sunday. Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) occupies many of the pilgrims’ halls behind the church and no one was allowed to enter them, the devotees said. Chinese navy presence in Kachchatheevu has been confirmed by Tamil Nadu journalists who had participated in the St. Antony’s Church festival recently, according to a Tamil daily in Tamil Nadu.
The fishermen from Jaffna used to put up in Paalaitheevu and engage in deep fishing in the past until 2005.
Now SLN soldiers do not allow anyone to land on Paalaitheevu including fishermen who sail past the island.
More than 5,000 devotees took part in the holy processions, mass and lent period prayers Saturday and Sunday.
They kept pouring in from 8:00 a.m until 4:00 p.m on Saturday and all of them were asked to leave Paalaitheevu at 4:00 p.m Sunday.
Most of the devotees were from Jaffna and Mannar.
Ki’linochchi, Mullaiththeevu diocese priest Rev. Fr. Javir headed the events during the two day festival.
The SLN officials in Paalaitheevu did not respond to the request by the pilgrims to allow them to worship at Paalaitheevu St. Antony’s church in the future.
SLN not allowing anyone to enter Paalaitheevu raises the suspicion that SLN and Chinese navy engage in joint operations in the island and on the sea around, the devotees said.