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Mullaitivu court places injunction on construction of Buddha statue

The Mullaitivu court has ordered an interim injunction on works to a disputed Buddha statue being constructed by a Tamil Hindu temple in Neeraviyadi in Semmalai.

The case regarding the legality of the statue, which was hurriedly declared open by Sinhala Buddhist monks on Wednesday, was heard before the Mullaitivu magistrates judge Lenin Kumar on Thursday.

The judge adjourned the case until February 12, until which an injunction has been placed on building works to the Buddha statue. The judge also ordered the Director General of the Sri Lankan archaeology department to appear before the court on this date.

Lawyers acting on behalf of the Buddhist monks who had instigated the construction of the statue submitted a document claiming the specified land had been declared an archaeological site under the purview of the Archaeology Department by gazette notification, and a document claiming that permission had been granted to build on the specified land.

Tamil lawyers representing the Hindu temple said these documents however referred to places as Chettimalai, Chettimalai village and Chettimalai GS division.

The Tamil lawyers pointed out that such a place did not exist and objected to submission of the Archaeology Dept’s purported land permit document on the grounds that it did not specify which division, or location, or how much land the permission referred to.

Before adjourning the case, the judge reprimanded Mullaitivu police for supporting the Buddhist monk in carrying out the disputed constructions.

On Wednesday the disputed Buddha statue was opened by monks, with police and government support, creating a tense situation as Tamil journalists and residents were harassed by the party.

A response to a Right to Information (RTI) request from the Karaithuraipattu (Maritimepattu) divisional council confirmed that according to local authority records the construction of the statue was illegal.