Feature Article

Eezham Tamils confront SL military-surveying of lands aimed at expanding Buddhist vihara

[TamilNet, Friday, 07 September 2018, 22:55 GMT]
Occupying Sinhala Army's 593 Brigade, which is having its headquarters at Naayaa'aru in Mullaith-theevu, silently brought in SL Archaeology Department workers on Friday morning in a move to put up border-stones to permanently grab lands for expanding a controversial, military-established Buddhist temple into a stupa establishment. The project also absorbs a traditional Hindu temple worshipped by Eezham Tamils at the heritage locality of Neeraavi-eattam, which lies sandwiched between Naayaa'ru lagoon and the sea. SL Military-hired land-surveyors also accompanied the group. They were carrying a letter that had been issued by one Kekulawala, a high ranking Survey Department official, three months ago. However, the move was vehemently opposed by the Tamil villagers, who confronted the group, chased it away and uprooted the GPS-fitted stones that were put by the group.

The surveying officials ran into the SL Army base but had to face the protesters who questioned the legality of its work.

The Tamil villagers had stopped all previous attempts by the SL Survey Department, which was citing boards that had been put up by the SL Archaeology Department.

This time, the SL Survey Department was also circumventing the presence of Tamil administrative officials of Karai-thu'raip-pattu Divisional Secretariat and the Village Officer (GS) of Chemmalai East in the surveying.

Protest on Friday

Border stone removed
One of the border stones removed by Tamil villagers at Neeraaviyadi
Protest on Friday
Protest on Friday
Protest on Friday
The previous attempt was on 03 July.

After that, the SL officials confronted by questions on the legality of the claim by the SL Archaeology Department started to cite an Extraordinary Gazette notification, issued in 2013 (1823/73) during the times of Rajapaksa rule.

The 1823/73 Gazette notification, which deals with classifying certain buildings as heritage properties, was vaguely defined. It talks about the buildings or monuments without specifying the extent of the lands, and it paves the way for greedy land-grab, the Tamil civil activists fighting against the genocidal land-grab have started to argue.

After taking up the issue, the District Development Committee, particularly its co-chairman, TNA Parliamentarian S. Sivamohan, informed all involved to cease surveying until the matter is appropriately addressed.

It is under these circumstances the SL military is rushing ahead with its attempt to complete the surveying and seizure of the lands to expand the so-called Gurukanda Purana Raja Maha Vihara (Gurukanda RMV), which has been established by the SL military at Neeraavi-eattam in Naayaa'ru after 2009.

The protesters said the SL military had a plan to put up a 60-feet stupa at the locality, which is a coastal hamlet situated on the narrow sandbar. Kokku'laay lagoon is located in the south.

Another extremist monk, Sri Thissapura Gunarathna Thero, who is based in Kokku'laay, south of Naayaa'ru is also proceeding without heeding to the demands of the local civil authorities, the NPC and even the interim order of the SL justice system. He is putting up a Sinhala Buddhist vihara at Kokku'laay, occupying the lands of a Saiva temple and the lands belonging to a Tamil family. The SL Navy fully backs him.

* * *

One of the villagers from Karunaadduk-kea'ni, Mr Rasenthiram, told TamilNet that a statue, worshipped by all travellers who attribute it to Pi'l'liaayaar, has always been there. It is part of the old heritage, he said.

The locality was the real and old Chem-malai (Pazhaiya Chemmalai) village since the ancient times. It was one of the early sites of human habitation in Naayaa'ru, Rasenthiram said.

The locality received the name Chem-malai as the hilltop is reddish. The original village of Chem-malai was located at Neeraaviyadi until the times of Ceylon's independence.

The people moved out of the area sometime in the past after an epidemic. They crossed the river to the other side and established today's Chemmalai village.

The Tamil villagers, who had moved into new Chem-malai village, were uprooted after 1982 as the Sinhala colonists started to encroach into Naayaa'ru with the backing of the SL military and the SL authorities.

Comparing the traditional Pi'l'laiyaar worship with that of Mu'ri-ka'ndi on Ki'linochchi - Jaffna A9 Highway, Rajenthiram said the people, particularly travellers on Naayaa'ru Road, believed that their vehicle would break down if they failed to stop by the Pi'l'laiyaar temple. The locality is also known as Neeraaviyadi.

Now, the occupying SL Army is not allowing the people to enter their temple to conduct poojas, Rajenthiram observed.

* * *

Naayaa'ru Rajamaha Vihara
Satellite image courtesy: Google Earth
Neeraavi-eattam 01
The controversial “Gurukanda Purana Rajamaha Vihara” at Neeraavi-eattam in Naayaa'ru [Screenshot from Google Street View]
Neeraavi-eattam 02
Sinhala Buddhicisation of Neeraavi-eattam encompasses Pi'l'laiyaar temple at Neeraaviyadi [Screenshot from Google Street View]
Neeraavi-eattam 03
Neeraavi-eattam 04
A close-up view from the past when Google Earth recorded the street view shows the state of Hindu deities drawings in the temple
Génocidaire SL commander Maj Gen Jegath Dias and the late Seruwila Saranakiththi Thera worked closely to brand the ancient remains at Naayaa'ru, possibly the traces of Mahayana Tamil Buddhist heritage, as traces of Sinhala Theravada Buddhism at Naayaa'ru.

Jegath Dias played a leading role in the onslaught on Vanni with command responsibility for Divisions 53, 57, and 59, and Task Force IV initiated the vihara project after May 2009.

The late Seruwila Saranakiththi Thera, who was the Anunayake of the Seruwila Saranakiththi Kalyani Sect and Chief Incumbent of the Mangala Raja Maha Viharaya in Seruwila at that time, was closely working with Jegath Dias.

Earlier, in 2006, the SL military intelligence deployed the same racist monk to manage the Maavil-aa'ru controversy towards scuttling the Ceasefire Agreement.

The incumbent monk at Gurukanda RMV is also groomed by the occupying Sinhala military, mainly by the troops of the 19 Gemunu Watch (GW), which is placed under the 593rd Brigade of the 59th Division.

Colonel Lanka Amarapala is the current Brigade Commander of the 593rd Brigade, which is advancing the plans.

Kolamba Medhalankara Thera is engaged with expanding the Gurukanda RMV.

The Sinhala monks, claiming the establishment as Gurukanda has been collecting the belongings of uprooted Tamils and claiming these as heritage artefacts from an ancient Sinhala Buddhist settlement of their imagination.

In the meantime, the SL Mahaweli ‘Development’ Authority has also been targeting to seize the lands and convert them into a Sinhala colony in the long run through the so-called L Scheme.

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