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Bishop says hidden hand behind shrine demolition
[TamilNet, Monday, 29 September 2003, 18:09 GMT]
At an emergency meeting held Monday evening at the Mannar District Secretariat following the demolition in the morning of the Catholic shrine in Erukkalampiddi, a Muslim village in the western part of the Mannar district, Muslims and Catholics agreed to amicably settle the shrine demolition issue after three hours of deliberations, sources said.
The Mannar district Government Agent, Mr. Visuvalingam, chaired the meeting. A catholic delegation and a Muslim delegation attended the meeting.
Mr.Arunothayan, the deputy political head of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in Mannar, Mr. Noordeen Mashoor, Minister Assisting Vanni Rehabilitation, and Tamil National Alliance MPs for Vanni, Mr. Selvam Adaikalanathan and Mr. Sivasakthi Anandan, also participated at the meeting.
The Catholic delegation at the meeting, which began at 5.30 p.m., comprised the Bishop of Mannar, Rt. Rev. Rayappu Joseph, community leaders from Pallimunai, the parish priest of Pallimunai, and the Vicar General of Mannar.
Speaking at the meeting, the Bishop said, "I know the hidden political hand behind this incident. The shrine demolition is a well-planned attempt to disrupt the cordial relations between Muslims and Tamils in Mannar for political profit. But we are determined not to let it succeed.”
The Erukkalampiddi Muslim delegation was led by attorney at law, Mr. M. B Farook.
The Muslim delegation argued that Erukkalampiddi as a whole is a Muslim village and hence creating a permanent catholic place of worship there was wrong. However, it was agreed finally that a temporary structure would be put up instead of rebuilding the shrine immediately.
The Mannar GA offered to build the shrine as decided upon by representatives of the two communities at Monday’s deliberations. He pointed out that the shrine had been built in state land. However, the GA said that he could provide a plot of land once an application is made for the site by the Church.
The deputy head of the LTTE’s political division in Mannar, Mr. M. Arunothayan, said: “We should not allow such incidents to snowball into a major communal flare- up. We will not permit incidents such as these to disrupt the current peace environment.”
Brigadier Sarath Fernando, the commanding officer for Sri Lanka army’s 2-5 and 21-2 Brigades in the Mannar District, the Vanni region Deputy Inspector General of Police, and the Senior Superintendent of Police for Vanni, Mr. Mohammed Miskin, represented the Sri Lankan security establishment.