SLAF orders school and temple to leave
[TamilNet, Wednesday, 22 March 2000, 20:09 GMT]
The Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) ordered that a school and a temple in Batticaloa be closed immediately as they are within the land allocated for the future expansion of its base near the eastern town.
SLAF officials in Batticaloa summoned trustee board members of the Sri Sithivinayagar temple and the authorities Sri Vigneswara Vidyalayam, the affected school, to a conference at the Airbase and ordered them to close down both institutions forthwith.
As the orders had been quite strict the management of the temple vacated the precincts before noon according to a trustee board member.
SLAF officials warned that no one would be allowed to enter the temple from today. Devotees who came to attend noon 'pooja' were stopped by SLAF personnel from entering the temple.
The Sithivinayagar temple was built in the 18th century and was renovated at a cost of about 20 million rupees in 1998. It was consecrated the same year.
The noon 'pooja' could not be not held today as consequence of the SLAF order said a temple official. The SLAF has asked the temple authorities to construct a new temple elsewhere, far away from the airbase.
The temple serves the villages of Puthunagar, Veechukalmunai, Sethukudha, Thimilaitheivu and Vavunathievu which lie by the SLAF base. Tamil devotees come from many parts of the island to this temple to fulfil their vows.
The school authorities informed the SLAF officials that they are unable to find alternative accommodation immediately for more than 1000 students who are studying there now. Taking their plea into consideration, SLAF officials gave one week's time to the school authorities to find a suitable place.
However, SLAF officials warned the school authorities that no students should be seen after 2 p.m. in class rooms or the playground during the week that has been granted them for moving out.
Sri Vigneswara Vidyalayam is the only school for the villages of Puthunagar, Veechukalmunai, Sethukudha, Thimilaitheivu and Vavunathievu.
SLAF officials told the managements of the temple and the school that they had to take this step to strengthen the security of the airbase by augmenting its perimeter.
22.09.98 Scrap SLAF base - council