3RD LEAD (Update)

Trustee vows to take up legal fight for restoration of Kanniyaa temple

[TamilNet, Friday, 12 July 2019, 07:29 GMT]
The Sinhala SL Government Agent (District Secretary) of Trincomalee District, NAA Pushpakumara, has been liaising with the SL Presidential Secretariat in Colombo and facilitating the SL Archaeology Department to resume the deconstruction of the base structure of Pi'l'laiyaar temple at the disputed heritage site of Kanniyaa Hot Wells. Mrs Ganesh Kokilaramany, who is the land-owner and the principal trustee of Pi'l'laiyaar temple, went to file a complaint with the SL Police. However, the Police showed four documents to her in an attempt to justify the resumption of the controversial work by the SL Archaeology Department. SL Presidential Secretariat has given go for the construction of the disputed Buddhist ‘chaitya’ by dismantling the construction of 200-year-old Hindu Pi'l'laiyaar temple at the private lands that belong to Mrs Kokilaramany.

Ganesh Kokilaramany
Ganesh Kokilaramany
Letter from SL Presidential Secretariat
Letter from SL Presidential Secretariat
The move is in complete violation of the negotiated understanding achieved by the SL Minister for Hindu Religious Affairs and ‘National Integration’ Mano Ganesan last month.

Mrs Kokilaramany narrated her interaction with the SL Minister last month as well as what happened this week and what she witnessed at the police station on Friday.

Kokilaramany said the only available option remaining was to advance a legal case.

In the meantime, Mr Mano Ganesan should intervene and make the SL President Maithiripala Sirisena to withdraw the permission his secretariat had given to the SL Archaeology Department, which was violating the understanding of Mr Mano Ganesan, Tamil rights activists in Trincomalee said.

The SL Police in Trincomalee was showing four documents in Sinhala as evidence for allowing the work to proceed.

One of these letters was from the SL Presidential Secretariat.

The letter says that Ampitiye Seelawansa Tissa thero [of Velgam Vihara] had written to the SL President. In his letter to the president, the monk had informed that the excavation work at the ‘Unu Diya Ling Raja Maha Vihara’ site was stopped due to the interventions made by Mr R Sampanthan [TNA Leader] and that the monk had requested to ensure any such political interference would not hinder the ongoing excavations. The letter from the SL Presidential Secretariat requests the SL Archaeological Commissioner to look into the matter and do “whatever that is necessary”.

Letter from Velgam Vihara
Letter from Velgam Vihara [Page 1/2]
Letter from Velgam Vihara
Letter from Velgam Vihara [Page 2/2]

Letter from SL Archaeology Department
Letter from SL Archaeology Department
Letter from the Speaker of SL Parliament Karu Jayasuriya
Letter from the Speaker of SL Parliament Karu Jayasuriya
Subsequently, the SL Archaeology Department maintains that there was a chaithya at the locality in ancient times and that it belonged to the early Anuradhapura period.

However, there is no credible evidence provided to substantiate the claim, Tamil academics in the East say.

The SL Department declared without any concrete evidence in a Gazette notification issued on 09 September 2011 (1723, page 683) that states: “Seven hot water wells are located in the vicinity of chaithya mound and other building ruins in Kanniya Village”.

One of the four documents the SL Police is having is a letter issued by the SL Director General of Archaeology Prof. P.B Mandawala. That letter claims that any ‘other’ construction that existed in the past at the locality could only be classified as belonging to ‘early Mullaith-theevu period’.

This explanation is given to denounce the Pi'l'laiyaar temple as a later construction.

Again, this view lacks scientific evidence, they said.

Furthermore, the Tamil academic sources in Trincomalee said that a survey was carried out by Japan Consortium for International Cooperation in Cultural Heritage in 2014 with a vested interest. It was trying to establish the site as a remain of Buddhist heritage. That too lacked credible evidence, they said.

The arguments were mostly originating from the same monk, Ampitye Seelawansa Thero, from the Velgam Vihara all the time, they further said.

Ven Ampitye Seelawansa Thero is the hardline monk based at Velgam Vihara.

Seelawansa Thero maintains that an ancient king named Bhatika Tissa (143 BC to 167 BC), believed to be the son of Mahallaka Naga, had built a ‘chaithya’ at the locality.

Kanniyaa Pi'l'laiyaar temple
Kanniyaa Pi'l'laiyaar temple before it was destroyed in 1980s

Kanniyaa, Gazette notification
Gazette notification from September 2011 in English, states the locality as ‘chaithya mound’



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