Feature Article

Intelligence establishments poised to escalate religious fundamentalism in Mannaar

[TamilNet, Thursday, 07 March 2019, 21:10 GMT]
A group of Saiva Tamil activists, attempting to renovate a decoration-arch placed four years ago on the road to Thirukkeatheeswaram temple in Mannaar, were opposed by a section of Tamil Catholic people on Sunday. The Catholics alleged that the presence of the galvanised arch was a disturbance to Our Lady of Lourdes Church at the locality. The Lourdes church, which was a minor place of worship, had also been expanded into a big temple four years ago in Maanthai parish. The parish priest of nearby Vangkaalai was opposing the ‘renovation’ of the arch blaming that the Saivites were scheming a permanent concrete structure. The Saivites, in their turn, were arguing that they were only consolidating the damaged parts of the existing galvanised arch on the occasion of Maha Shivaratri which was to be observed on Monday. The dispute was blown out of proportion by the parties with vested interest.

Thirukkeatheesvaram dispute
A group of radicalized Catholic Tamils, including women, act against the arch on the road to Thirukkeatheesvaram temple in Mannaar. The chief priest from the nearby parish is allegedly behind the mobilisation. The video-clips of the episode was spread in the social media whipping up a hate campaign across North-East and in India
Thirukkeatheesvaram dispute
Siva-bhoomi hate-campaign posters recently appeared in Thirukkeatheesvaram area in Mannaar

Siva Senai
Reaction of Siva Senai. Note the strong language
VHP statement
New Delhi based Vishva Hindu Parishad, which seeks to sophisticatedly deviate the religious part of the struggle of the genocide-facing Eezham Tamils, urges ‘esteemed’ Government of ‘Sri Lanka’ to ensure saftey of the Hindus
Email from Diocese of Jaffna
Email from Diocese of Jaffna
A similar episode was also evidenced last year during the times of Maha Shivaratri festival. However, the trend has worsened this year.

Apart from the details of the dispute and its background of ‘evolution’ since the late 1950s, the pertinent question the Eezham Tamils must ask themselves is who are the forces engineering, escalating or benefiting from the religious skirmishes such as the one witnessed in Mannaar earlier this week.

The SL military intelligence, a section of Sinhala politicians (particularly those in the UNP) as well as their bureaucracy and some personalities of the Sinhala Catholic establishment in the South want to escalate religious rifts among the Tamils, particularly in Mannaar.

The Sinhala personalities range from John Amaratunga, the SL minister of Tourism Development, Wildlife and Christian Religious Affairs to His Eminence Cardinal Malcolm Ranjit, who operates with a biased Sinhala mindset. Malcolm Ranjit has been backing the preferential status to Buddhism in the SL 'constitution' as well as collaborating with the occupying SL military establishment, as evidenced in his rapport with the controversial SL Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.

The biased personalities among the Sinhala Catholics are attempting to de-Tamilize the shrine of Madu. The Sinhala extremist Theravada Buddhists interpret the Madu-based Catholic establishment as a longer-term threat challenging their perception of Anuradhapura-heritage based ‘supremacy’ against Eehzam Tamils. A sophisticated de-Tamilisation of Madu is coming from the SLFP circles and the SL President Maithiripala Sirisena.

In the meantime, the foreign intelligence Hindutva outfits deployed by the New Delhi establishment in the island after 2009, have a different motive. However, its modus operandi is the same as that of occupying Colombo. The Hindutva outfits are particularly active among the Tamil Saivites and Sinhala Buddhists.

Media circles in Jaffna say that the Indian intelligence operative operating from the Indian consulate in Jaffna is paying a keen interest in the dispute.

Unlike the tendencies witnessed in the Eastern province in the past, the Eezham Tamils in Mannaar have primarily overcome the challenges and they have managed to sustain a positive environment with inclusiveness and unity centred on a shared language, economic and socio-cultural ways of life.

A robust Catholic community that has stood with the grassroots braving suppression during the colonial times of the Dutch and the British, and the Tamil-speaking Muslims interacting openly with all other sections have coexisted peacefully with the Saivite Tamils in the district.

The former Bishop of Mannaar Rt Rev Rayappu Joseph has earned the respect of all the sections.

The Bishop of Mannaar Rt Rev Fidelis Lionel Emmanuel Fernando is mainly absent in course correcting the tendency of extremist parish priests in Mannaar Diocese. The Bishop is yet to demonstrate statesmanship in dealing with the burning issues.

Statement from Diocese of Mannaar  (page 1/2)
Statement from Diocese of Mannaar (page 1/2)
Statement from Diocese of Mannaar  (page 2/2)
Statement from Diocese of Mannaar (page 2/2)

The TNA parliamentarians from the district are merely paying lip-service. In reality, they are indirectly contributing to escalating the tension.

Saivites lack proper leadership. That space has been hijacked by disillusioned sections that have succumbed to the cunning designs of the New Delhi Establishment.

The leadership vacuum and the lack of statesmanship among the religious communities need to be addressed, and that process should start in Mannaar to avoid the Tamil speaking people getting ripped apart with permanent hostility as witnessed in the district of Batticaloa.

The Saivites in Mannaar must realise the significance of defending the Tamil heritage of Madu as well as the Catholics respecting the heritage of Thirukkeatheesvaram and learn to co-exist.

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