Feature Article

Buddhist monks whip up anti-Muslim hate twisting facts on coastal lands in Poththuvil: Civic Chairman

[TamilNet, Sunday, 01 September 2019, 18:16 GMT]
Poththuvil Divisional Council (PS) Chairman MS Abdul Wazeeth has blamed the extremist Sinhala Buddhist monks for waging hate-campaign against Poththuvil Muslims. An extremist monk based at the newly constructed vihara has claimed that the Muslim villagers were attempting to assault him and he keeps alleging that the ancient Buddhist monuments found close to the beach were being destroyed as the SL Government in Colombo, particularly the UNP led by Ranil Wickramasinghe, had allowed the Muslims to encroach the lands of the so-called Muhudu Maha Viharaya. The archaeological monuments and the monks are protected by armed Sinhala soldiers and the police round the clock. How could the villagers assault them, he asked. It was the monks who had encroached into the areas that come under the purview of the SL Archaeology Department, MSA Wazeeth said.

MSA Wazeeth
MSA Wazeeth
In the meantime, Tamil officials in Ampaa'rai said that the monks were creating a controversy to pitch for more resources from the SL State using the electoral politics. Their project gained attention in 2015.

Again now, they want more share and resources to the Buddhist establishment at Poththuvil and calculatedly deploy their campaign targeting the attention of Sajith Premadasa or Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, they said. The monks provoke the villagers and use the images to fuel a campaign through social media totally out of propotions, they said.

The extremist monk, Athuraliye Rathana thero, visited the locality on Friday in an attempt to give wider publicity to the issue among the Sinhala population in the South.

The monks were also trying to create conflicts between the Tamils and the Muslims in the district.

Athuraliye Rathana thero visited Poththuvil on Friday
Athuraliye Rathana thero visited Poththuvil on Friday
Maithiripala Sirisena taking part in Poththuvil vihara ceremony
Maithiripala Sirisena taking part in Poththuvil vihara ceremony
SL President Maithiripala Sirisena took part in the opening ceremony of the stupa in 2015
Even the SL Department of Archaeology had acknowledged in writing to the Divisional Council that its lands were being encroached by the monks who had erected a new Buddhist temple inside the encroached lands, Mr Wazeeth said.

The encroaching monks, who are backed by the Sinhala Navy, have put up a Vihara and a Pansala (Buddhist temple) inside the lands that belong to the SL Archaeology Department. The monks have seized around three-quarters of an acre of archaeological grounds for the new Vihara, he said.

“It is true that seventy-two acres of lands were allocated to SL Archaeology Department in 1956 at the coastal locality known as Mathuragn-cheanai. However, the archaeological department didn’t establish any finding in the extent of 72 acres. Hence, the people started to settle in the lands where there were no archaeological artefacts,” Mr Wazeeth said.

Again, the Archaeology Department revisited the area in the 2000s and carried out a new survey. Following the new study, thirty acres and three roods of lands were demarcated as lands coming under the direct control of that department. These lands are intact and still belong to that department, the chairman of the elected Divisional Council said adding that the monks are waging false propaganda.

The Divisional Council was protecting the civilian settlements against the coastal landslide through the SL Department of Coast Conservation, Wazeeth further said. The dunes are at the height of 30 meters causing trouble to the households, he said.

Poththuvil Archaeological site
The ruins of ancient statues at Poththuvil conserved by the SL Department of Archaeology

The Buddhist monks started to confront the Divisional Council and blamed the people of the area as encroachers and invaders.

There is not even a single Sinhala Buddhist in the area, Wazeeth said.

Instead of resorting to a hate campaign, the monks should come forward to demarcate the lands that belong to the SL Department of Archaeology and the lands needed to the Vihara.

Muhudu Maha Viharaya, Poththuvil
Newly placed statues along the coast. The monks establishment is behind the erection of stupa and the new statues

One of the statue fallen in the sand
An easy to fall new statue photographed and circulated in South to whip up anti-Muslim campaign
The Chief Incumbent of the Buddhist Vihara Ven Warakapola Indrasiri thero is known to issue statements insinuating hatred among Sinhalese in the South against the Muslims. The trend has become much worse after 2019 April Easter attacks.

The controversial stupa was declared open by SL President Maithiripala Sirisena on 20 June 2015. The stupa, named Muhudu Maha Vihara, has been erected close to the archaeological site where ruined sculptures are being conserved.

The monks claim that an ancient chaitya was also located there 2,000 years ago. Furthermore, they maintain that the coastal locality was where Princess Vihara Maha Devi (mother of Dutugemunu) had been washed ashore.

The same myth is also associated with another place, Kirinda, which is situated further southwards in Tissamaharama in the district of Hambantota.

Chandima thero tweets a photo from Poththuvil
A Buddhist monk, Chandima Thero, has tweeted a photo from Poththuvil which depicts a resident as chasing the incumbent monk at the locality. The tweet was from 27 August 2019.
Location of Mudu Maha Viharaya
The location of “Mu[hu]du Maha Viharaya”

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