Police out of Koneswaram demands Sampanthan
[TamilNet, Tuesday, 12 March 2002, 22:11 GMT]
Mr.R.Sampanthan, Trincomalee district parliamentarian Tuesday urged the Deputy Inspector General of Police (Eastern region) to permanently remove the police barrack from the 'madam' (pilgrim's rest) of historic Koneswaram temple in the eastern port town.
The MP pointed out that all places of worship currently occupied by the forces should be vacated within thirty days of the signing of the cease-fire agreement by the Prime Minister Mr.Ranil Wickremasinghe and Mr.V.Pirapaharan, the leader of the Liberation Tigers.
The 'madam' of the historical Koneswaram Temple has been used as a Sri Lankan Police barrack for over eight years. The 'madam' is situated close to the temple. The Police allow the Koneswaram temple management council to use the pilgrim's rest only once a year for offering free meals ('Annathaanam') to devotees who attend the Maha Sivarathiri day night poojahs in the temple.
Thousands of Hindu devotees Tuesday night attended 'Maha Sivarathiri' poojahs in the Koneswaram Temple, which is inside the Fort Frederick where the Sri Lanka Army's Gajaba Regiment is currently stationed.
The Police have now allowed the temple management to use its pilgrim's rest to offer free meals to devotees who stay in the temple Tuesday night to observe 'Maha Sivarathiri' fasting.
"The madam would be taken back by the Police on Thursday for their use," a temple official told TamilNet.
But Hindu organizations and leading citizens want the pilgrim's rest to be handed over the temple management permanently. They have requested the authorities to take steps to oust the Police from the pilgrim's rest permanently.
The continuing presence of Police in the pilgrim's rest of the temple would cause immense harm to the feelings of Hindus, Mr.Sampanthan stressed.
The date of original Koneswaram temple is recorded in a Tamil poem by Kavi Rajavarothiar as being 1589 BC. King Kulakottan, a South Indian prince rebuilt and enlarged this temple in the 5th century AD.
Fort Frederick, where the temple is situated, was built with sculptured stones and pillars of the Koneswaram temple in 1624 AD, after the temple was demolished by the Portuguese commander Constantine de Sa. The current Koneswaram temple was first consecrated in 1963, about three hundred and thirty nine years after its destruction.