A protest was held yesterday in Iluppaikulam, Trincomalee, condemning the construction of a new Buddhist temple in an area predominantly inhabited by Tamil people. The protestors raised questions regarding the necessity and purpose of building a Buddhist temple in a locality where there are no Sinhalese residents.
The Nilaveli Police submitted a petition to the Nilaveli Magistrate court, which subsequently issued an injunction against 14 individuals, banning them from protesting near Boralukanda Buddhist temple in Illupaikulam.
Among those barred from protesting R. Jerome and R. Nichols from Tamil Parvai were characterised as ‘fundamentalist civil organisation’, by the additional Magistrate Dashani Annadurai. Additionally Krishnapillai Prasad of the Tamil People’s National Front (TNPF) Youth Wing, MPs Gajendrakumar Ponnambalama, Selvaraja Gajendran, and Rasamanickam Shanakiyan, as well as former Kuchchiveli Divisional Secretariat Ponniah Waithiyalingam were also name in the injunction as those banned from protesting the Buddhist temple.
Despite the injunction, protestors relocated their demonstration from Sambaltivu bridge to the opposite side of the road, determined to voice their concerns.
The focus of their protest centred on the 540 families, comprising 2,202 Tamil individuals residing in Iluppaikulam and surrounding villages like Periyakulam, Aththimotai, Sambaltivu, and Salli. None of these communities have Sinhalese residents. The question of why a Buddhist temple was being constructed in an area where it would not serve its intended purpose was repeatedly raised.
Concerns were raised about the impartiality of the Archeological Department. Protestors questioned whether the department's focus was solely on Buddhist archaeology, potentially leading to biases in heritage preservation efforts. Concerns were also raised regarding the potential for this construction to spark tensions among the various communities residing in the area.
Notably, the construction is taking place despite an existing ban on the establishment of new Buddhist temples, imposed by the Governor of the Eastern Province. Following the ban issued by the Governor a few Buddhist monks staged a protest on August 12th at Periyakulam and on August 28th in front of the District Secretariat which caused roadblocks along the A6 highway. The protestors also forcibly entered a meeting being held by the District Secretariat being held at the Kachcheri protesting the ban.