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Sri Lankan navy suspected of installing another new Buddha statue in Jaffna

A statue of Buddha which has recently appeared near the Suzhipuram Chaukkadi Pillaiyar temple has caused uproar among the local Tamil community, who fear that the latest construction may be yet another Sri Lankan attempt to erect a Sinhala Buddhist vihara in the region. 

Locals suspect that Sri Lankan navy personnel in the area are responsible for the new statue which has been placed under a Bo tree by the Pillaiyar temple. Residents have asked the Sri Lankan police to investigate who had placed the statue there and for what purpose, but fear that the police may never fully investigate the incident given their history of supporting Sinhalisation efforts.

This is not the first time that Buddhist monuments have been suddenly, and illegally, erected in the Tamil homeland. Last year in November, the construction of another Buddhist vihara in Trincomalee continued to ramp up, despite protests from locals in Iluppaikulam, Trincomalee. Residents from the surrounding villages of Periyakulam, Aththimotai, Sambaltivu, and Salli have repeatedly protested the ongoing Sinhalisation of the Tamil North_East. The 540 families that live in the area noted that the temple is being constructed in an area where no Sinhalese people live.

Before this, during another incident, an officer from Sri Lanka's Minister Security Division (MSD) threatened to shoot Tamil and Muslim protesters for opposing the installation of a Buddha statue in Ponmalaikuda, Pulmoaddai in Trincomalee. Locals were outraged when a group of Sinhala Buddhist monks, officers from Sri Lanka's Archeology Department and Sri Lanka's security forces attempted to install a Buddha statue on land belonging to Tamils and Muslims. The protesters gathered in the area after one of the monk's drivers broke a farmer's fence to enter and seize the land.

Aggravating an already tense situation was the Buddha statue that was set up in the Mayilathamadu Madhavanai area of Batticaloa, under the leadership of controversial monk Ambitiya Sumanaratna. The installation ceremony also saw the participation of the former Governor of the Eastern Province, Anuradha Yahampa. The decision to place the Buddha statue comes at a time when Tamil farmers had been engaged in a continuous protest The protesters allege that Sinhalese settlers have been steadily encroaching on their lands, leading to the displacement of Tamil farmers.

Sinhala colonisation has been rapidly increasing in the past few years within the Northern and Eastern provinces of the island. The province has been subject to Sinhalisation for decades but efforts have intensified in recent years with the aid of Sri Lanka's military and archaeology department.

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