Protest over acquisition of historic Tamil temples

Place: Jaffna | Courtesy: TamilNet
| Date: 19990831

The All Ceylon Hindu Congress faxed an urgent letter to the Sri Lankan President today drawing her attention to a gazette notification by the government to acquire the Keerimalai Naguleswarar temple and the Maviddapuram Kandaswamy temple for the expansion of the Palaly army base in Jaffna and urging her to suspend any action in this regard.

Lands belonging thousands of civilians in the northern part of the Valikamam division of Jaffna along with the two temples and numerous Hindu shrines are to be acquired under Gazette Extraordinary No.1083/9 of June 8, 1999.

The Hindu Congress sought an urgent appointment with the President to discuss the matter in another letter faxed to her today. The Hindu Congress says in its letter:

"We are perturbed and shocked to note from the Gazette Extraordinary No.1083/9 of 8 June 1999 (which was received by subscribers only on Saturday 28 August, 1999)that declaration under Section 5 of the Land Acquisition Act has been gazetted by Your Excellency's Acting Minister of Agriculture and Lands. We note that the Minister's declaration is dated 28 February 1999."

The Congress points out that the Gazette Extraordinary No.1083/9 declaration was made after the Sri Lankan government announced in March this year that the proposed acquisition of lands in Palaly, including the Maviddapuram Kandaswamy temple and the Keerimalai Naguleswarar temple, will not be proceeded with following vehement protests by Tamil parties, Hindu organisations and other interest groups.

Two gazette notifications were made by the UNP regime on May 29, 1986 and August 7, 1987 (Gazette Extraordinary No. 465/11) declaring the acquisition of the lands in Valikamam north. Tamil parties and Hindu organisations agitated earlier this year to revoke the gazette notifications made by the UNP government in 86 and 87.

The declaration gazetted by the PA under section 5 of the Land Acquisition Act on June 8, 1999 is also intended to take over the same lands. The Hindu Congress appealed to the Sri Lankan President to revoke forthwith the three gazette declarations intended to take over temples and private property in Valikamam north.

"The two historic temples are important places of Hindu worship. Keerimalai Naguleswarar Kovil is a place where 'Aadi Amavasai' is observed by the Hindus of this country. Acquisition by the government of the area, including these two temples will amount to the denial of the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution" states the All Ceylon Hindu Congress.