Buddhist monk arrested in Amparai

[TamilNet, Monday, 14 December 1998, 16:36 GMT]
Kadiragamuwa Sri Ratna Himi, a Buddhist monk accused of stealing archaeological treasures in the south-eastern parts of Sri Lanka, was produced in the Amapara district court today.

The monk, the chief priest of Muthumaha Vihara, a Buddhist temple in Pottuvil, a Muslim town on the southeastern coast of the island, was arrested yesterday on a complaint made by the eastern unit of Sri Lanka's Archaeological Department.

Police sources said that the arrest of the monk came in the wake of the confiscation of several archaeological treasures, that had been robbed from ancient sites in the region.

The court allowed the priest bail but no one had turned up until this evening to pay the dues and release him, said Police sources in Ampara.

There were several complaints made against the monk for encroaching on lands near his temple and for instigating hatred against the Muslims in the area, said sources in Pottuvil. The priest has written articles of a chauvinist nature in the Sinhala press, the sources added.

Pottuvil was formerly a Tamil dominated area. The electorate of the same name returned a Tamil member to Parliament at the 1977 general elections.

The Tamil population in the Pottuvil town has greatly dwindled since the late eighties and particularly after 1990 as a result of systematic elimination , forcible evictions and massacres of Tamil civilians by the Special Task Force.

Tamil land owners and businessmen who once dominated this south-eastern town have left, selling their properties to Muslims.

The few impoverished Tamils who fled from the massacres in 1990-91 from villages such as Inspectoreyththam, Oorani, Chemmanikulam etc., were resettled last year.

They were driven out again because of the actions of the Police in the village of Inspectoreyththam.

The Buddhist temple was constructed under the patronage of the STF to cater to the Sinhala Buddhist commandos of this elite police unit.

 

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