Trinco hartal suspended pending President's decision

[TamilNet, Saturday, 21 May 2005, 13:51 GMT]
Sri Lanka's President Ms Chandrika Kumaratunge will make a decision on the demand to remove the controversial Buddha statue which was erected overnight on May 15 in a land close to the Trincomalee bus stand and used for parking three wheelers, said Major General (retd) Asoka Jayawardene, Defence Ministry Secretary at the conclusion of four hours of discussions he held with several representatives of civil groups in the Sri Lanka naval headquarters located inside Trincomalee Dockyard, sources said.

Participating in the discussion Mr.V.Vigneswaran, President of the Trincomalee District Tamil Peoples Forum (TDTPF) announced that he would suspend the general shut down in Trincomalee demanding the immediate removal of the Buddha statue from the present site for three days from Sunday. In failing to remove the statue within three days he would renew the general shut down call on an extended scale, he said.

Major General Asoka Jayawardene is reported to have replied that he was not able to give the exact date for the President's decision to a question by Mr.Vigneswaran. However President's decision would be announced shortly, he added.

The discussion, which commenced around at about 11 a.m, about two hours late from the scheduled time, concluded around 2.15 p.m., sources said.

Rear Admiral Daya Sandagiri, Navy Commander and the Head of three armed forces, Sri Lanka Army Commander Shantha Kottegoda, Air Force Commander Donald Perera, Inspector General of Police Mr.Chandra Fernando and regional and district level army, navy and police top officials participated, sources said

Mr.Jayantha Wijesekara, JVP parliamentarian of the Trincomalee district participated in the discussion. The other three parliamentarians of the district did not participate.

Buddhist priests and Mr.Keerthi Priyalal, Secretary of the Three Wheelers' Association, which was responsible for the erection of the statue, did not attend the function, sources said.

Other participants were Brammasiri S.Ravichchandrakurkkal, Sri La Sri Sunthara Thesigar and Siva Sri Vikneswara Kurukkal of Hindu community, Mr.M.L.Jainulabdeen, Mr.Munsoor and another from the Muslim community and Rev.Fr.George Dissanayake and Rev Fr. Annathas of Christian community, Attorney-at-Law Mr.K.Sivapalan and Mr.T.Thavasilingam, Chairman of the Trincomalee District NGOs Consortium and Mr.V.Vigneswaran, Mr.A.S.Gunaratnam and S.Gowrimuhunthan of the TDTPF, sources said.

Religious dignitaries and representatives of Tamil civil groups said Tamils are not against Buddhism and they revere Lord Buddha. They are against the manner the statue was erected with a hidden agenda and in a place, which is surrounded by fish market, meat stalls, and wine stores. "We will be glad to participate in the function if the Buddha statue is removed and erected in an alternative suitable location," said the representatives.

Media persons were not invited for the discussion.


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