SL Archaeology Department's collusion with intruding monks questioned at Magistrate's Court

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 02 October 2018, 21:43 GMT]
The extremist Sinhala Buddhist monks, barred from erecting a controversial Buddha statue under cover of so-called conservation work in Mullaiththeev in September, have approached the Magistrate's Court in Mullaiththeevu to nullify an interim order issued following the dispute. The officials of the SL Archaeology Department and the SL Police in Oddu-chuddaan were backing the latest move of the monks regarding the hilltop of Kurunthoor-malai. The case was taken for hearing at Mullaiththeevu Magistrate’s Court on Monday. The lawyers representing the monks and the SL Archaeology Department argued that the monks had the right to proceed with the “conservation” work as the SL State had already gazetted the site as “Gurunda Asokarama”. They also said that the SL Archaeology Department had “outsourced” the conservation work to the monks.

The Tamil lawyers who represented the villagers produced private ownership documents of the lands in question.

Presenting the documents to prove private ownership of the lands by Tamil villagers as far back as 1892 during the times of the British rule, they argued that Saiva temples of Tamil village deities existed at the locality for centuries. There was no knowledge of a Buddhist temple at the location in recent history, they said.

After lengthy debates, the Magistrate questioned the complainant monks of their expertise.

The SL Archaeology Department officials, who were present at the court explained that their department had outsourced the conservation work of the Buddhist sites to Buddhist monks due to lack of funds at the SL Department to undertake the conservation on its own.

Had there been a Buddhist temple at the locality in the ancient times as being claimed by the monks today, it should be the responsibility of the SL Archaeological Department to establish it first as a scientific fact.

How could the monks come with a new statue before such fact has been established correctly, the Magistrate asked.

The Magistrate's Court upheld the interim order.

The Magistrate went on questioning the decision of the SL Archaeological Department and instructed the authentic director of the SL Archaeology Department, who is in charge of the region, to be present in person at the next hearing.

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