Feature Article

Colombo accelerates Sinhalicisaton of disputed heritage hilltop in Vavuniyaa

[TamilNet, Saturday, 12 January 2019, 22:38 GMT]
A team of technicians from the SL Archaeology Department were deployed to copy stone inscriptions found at the disputed heritage site of Vedukku-naa'ri hill-top in Vavuniyaa on Thursday and Friday. The members of the group were claiming that they had come following special requests from the District Secretary of Vavuniyaa, a Sinhalese, and the secretariat of the SL President Maithiripala Sirisena, said Thamilchelvan Thurairajah, an elected councillor at the Civic Divisional Council of Vavuniyaa North, who confronted and interacted with the team on Thursday. Two armed Special Task Force commandos and two police officers were providing ‘security’ to the technicians to carry out the recordings on Thursday and Friday. They were also making some other measurements at the hilltop, the witnesses said.

The team from SL Archaeology Department of the unitary state of genocidal Sri Lanka engaged in copying the stone inscriptions found at the disputed hilltop of Vedukku-naa'ri on 10th January 2019
The board of trustees of Vedukku-naa'ri Aathi-lingkeasvarar temple were of the opinion that the SL President Maithiripala Sirisena, who hails from Polonnaruwa in the North Central Province seemed to be preoccupied with the Sinhalicisation of Madu Shrine in Mannaar, and with seizing various heritage of Tamils in Vavuniyaa North and Mullaiththeevu to expand the Sinhala colonisation from Anuradhapura district.

Multiple attempts to put up Buddha statues have been witnessed in Vavuniyaa North and Mullaiththeevu in the recent months.

The hill of Vedukku-naa'ri is located in a jungle area 2 km close to Olu-madu village.

Ancient Tamil villages, Pan-ku'lam and Naavaladi, are also located very close to the hill. However, these villages are mostly abandoned since the late 1940s due to the consistent threat coming from the colonists and the so-called ‘home guards’ paramilitary.

The people from Olu-madu, who have also continuously maintained their connection to Vedukku-naa'ri hill, are today at the forefront to preserve the Tamil heritage of the hilltop.

Rock inscriptions connected to Tamil-Brahmi script are preserved at least in two places in Veduukku-naa'ri hill, one at three meters above the ground surface and the other at 30 meters height. The inscription at the highest elevation is somewhat fragmentary.

The inscriptions mentioning offerings/donations made to a Sangha, look similar to other inscriptions discovered in the island in the past and they are most probably related to contributions patronising Mahayana Buddhism, which was embraced by Tamils in the past.

For centuries, it was Tamils who have been protecting Vedukku-naa'ri hilltop as part of their heritage, V. Poobalasingam, a devotee from Olumadu told TamilNet in an interview published in August 2018.

Now, the SL Establishment is attempting to project it as a heritage property of the Sinhala Theravada Buddhism.

The SL Archaeology Department approached the SL Police to block Tamil devotees from setting up a ladder to the hilltop in August 2018.

When the dispute went to the courts, the local community was allowed to proceed with the deity rituals without engaging in any construction work.

The Tamil people mobilised by proceeding with rituals and pongkal feasts with a renewed strength.

In response, the Sinhala extremist monks, opposing the court decision, started to dispatch extremist politicians from the South.

It is under these circumstances, the SL President and the Sinhala District Secretary, are acting to speed up the Sinhalicisation of the heritage site through advancing a new Gazette Notification through the SL Archaeology Department, which is now engaged in recording the inscription.

Video recording of the inscription found at 3 meters height follows:

The democratically elected Divisional Council at Vavuniyaa North is set to pass a resolution in the coming week demanding the Vedukku-naa'ri hilltop as a sacred site, which should be governed by the civic council, Mr Thamilchelvan told TamilNet.

The council was also acting on the request from the board of trustees of Aathilngkeasvarar temple, he said.

He was mostly concerned of losing the monetary resources mobilised so far to protect the Tamil heritage at the site.

The cultural affairs ministry of Northern Provincial Council had allocated 450,000 rupees to construct a detachable steps ladder to enable the pilgrims and devotees to reach the hill-top. The SL Archaeology Department and the SL Police did not allow the people to fit the ladder at the locality.

Similarly, Vanni district TNA Parliamentarian arranged for funds to drill a water well. However, the funds have been redirected to some other project as an interim order was blocking construction activities, Thamilchelvan said.

An allocation of 1.5 million rupees for the construction of the road towards the temple has also been diverted to some other objective just because it was not possible to accomplish the work due to the claims of the SL Archaeology Department, the civic councillor further said.

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