Muslims fear next wave of attacks could target Sufi Dargahs in Mannaar, Musali under cordon

[TamilNet, Monday, 29 April 2019, 17:52 GMT]
Security has been beefed up at the five pilgrimage sites in Mannaar district as the Muslim religious leaders expressed fear of the next wave of externally influenced Islamist attacks could target their traditional pilgrimage sites as the ring leader of the terror attacks on Easter Sunday was also opposed to such worship as “anti-Islamic” practice. In the meantime, the occupying SL Army, SL Navy, the STF commandos and the SL Police have subjected the entire 107 km coastal road from Puththa'lam in the North Western Province to Mannaar in the Northern province with ten check posts since Saturday. The security beef-up has increased the travel time from Mannaar to Puththa'lam from two hours to six hours. The SL forces are mainly targeting the Tamil-speaking Muslims in Musali division with three large cordon-and-search operations for the past three days, civil sources in Musali said.

The SL forces have carried out three large cordon-and-search operations in Musali division within the past three days, civil sources in Mannaar said.

Additional troops have been deployed from the South.

At least five armed soldiers have been posted to every religious place of worship in the district.

The majority of Tamil-speaking Muslims in the North and East are Sufis, who engage in traditional pilgrim worships at the sites of holy places of tomb sites.

So far, the SL and Indian intelligence outlets seeking to divide Tamil-speaking people in Mannaar along the religious fault lines have been focusing on creating tensions among the Catholics, Saivites and Muslims.

However, the third outside force, which has brought in a much more dangerous paradigm through the Easter Sunday attacks, seems to have made some calculations on attacking the Tamil secularism, commented Tamil activists in Mannaar.

The tendency is also more beneficial to the global powers seeking a new paradigm for crisis management on the island, they warned.

Mannaar would be the cradle shaping the future of Tamil secularism in the island, and possibly also South Asia and the Tamil-speaking people in the district need to be enlightened further on the significance of preserving the conducive environment, the activists said.

The local ring-leader Zahran Hashim, who is believed to have blown himself up in one of the blasts on Easter Sunday and those considered to be his associates, had declared the Sufi practice of visiting the shrines for ziyarat (pilgrimage form of worship) as an act of Kafir, Muslim sources in the district said.

Like Catholics and Saivites, Sufi Muslims practice ‘nearththik-kadan’ which is offering the deity something if the wish expressed in a previous prayer comes true.

There are five such Dargahs in the district, Kappal-o'li in Thalai-Mannaar, two shrines in Erukkalam-piddi, Kaaddup-pa'l'li-vaasal in Moor Street and one in Keeri.

These Dargahs are mostly tomb sites of Islamic mystics who had come to the island hundreds of years ago.

In the meantime, the SL military has taken command of the entire Vil-pattu reserved forest from the SL Forest Department, especially as one of the attackers had reportedly been involved in an incident involving explosives at Va'n'naaththi-villu (recently Sinhalicised as Vanathavilluwa) in Puththa'lam district.

The SL military is targeting Muslims in Musali due to their outfit, the sources in Mannaar said. The Sinhala military establishment regards everyone in the Middle Eastern costume as a potential jihadist, which is a dangerous trend, they said.

After the genocidal onslaught on Vanni in 2009, the occupying SL Navy has transformed Mu'l'lik-ku'lam into the Command Headquarters of its so-called “North Western Naval Area”.

The SL Navy has deployed targeted cordon and search operations in Pa'ndaara-ve'li, Meatthan-ve'li, Chilaavath-thu'rai and Musali.

Additional troops of SL military arrived in Mannaar in ten private buses on Sunday.

The travellers are required to have their identity cards with them.

SL Minister Rishard Badurdeen (Rishad Bathiudeen) has been instrumental in bringing external financial aid from the Middle-East and Pakistan to construct housing schemes in Vil-pattu and Musali in recent years.

Badurdeen has been inciting communal hatred between various Tamil-speaking communities, with a record of issuing a threatening statement against the former Bishop of Mannaar Rayappu Joseph.

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