Posted on February 15th, 2024


The Tamil Separatist Movement has shown strong opposition to the presence of Buddhist temples in the north and east. Tamil Separatist Movement   vehemently objects to the construction of Buddhist temples and demands their removal.

Tamil Separatist Movement   objects to construction of new Buddhist temples, Buddha statues and shrines. It objects to   the presence of Bhikkhus in those temples and to the excavation of ancient Buddhist temples. Tamil Separatist Movement calls this Buddhistization.”  Tamil Separatist Movement   responds by destroying Buddhist ruins,   by     vandalizing   Buddhist statues, by  threatening bhikkhus who had come into the north and east,building kovils on the sites of ancient Buddhist temples and by creating contested sites.

Tamil Separatist Movement complains loudly that Buddhist temples are built in the north and east where there are no Buddhists. However, they do not object   when Christian missions start evangelist churches.

Since the end of the Eelam war, a large number of Buddhist viharas and Buddha statues have sprouted in the North thanks to the Sri Lankan armed forces, Tamil Separatist Movement complained.

There has been an influx in the rediscoveries” of Sinhala Buddhist sites in predominantly Tamil and Muslim areas by Sri Lanka’s Department of Archaeology, it said. These rediscoveries” of Buddhist sites are affecting the Tamil homeland concept. Further, this rediscovery” of  Buddhist sites, with   the  assistance of archaeology , helps in the takeover of  Tamil land.

 This strategy  of  using ancient ruins, has been in operation for several decades, but it is now accelerated. Overzealous Buddhist monks have started to construct Buddhist temples on  state land saying they  are Buddhist archaeological sites.

In 2016, after the Yahapalana government came to power, there were numerous demands for the removal of Buddhist temples, statues, and shrines built in the Northern Province,.  In August 2016 TNA MPs met Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe and complained about Buddhist temples and statues being built in the area. 

The Northern Provincial Council   passed a resolution in 2016 prohibiting the construction of Buddhist temples in the north.   It had no legal standing, said lawyers.

Tamil Peoples’ Council, headed by Northern Province Chief Minister C.V.Wigneswaran said,  in a statement  issued in 2016    that Buddha Viharas are sprouting like mushrooms in areas where there are no Buddhists.

The Tamil Peoples’ Council ,  invited people to join a mass protest in Jaffna on September 24, 2016 to demand a stop to the construction of Buddha statues and Buddhist temples in areas in the Northern Province where there are no Buddhists.

C.V.  Wigneswaran issued a statement saying stop erecting Buddha statues and Buddhist temples illegally and in places where there are no Buddhists..  He also objected to putting up Buddha statues and temples  on private lands.

There were 131 sites of Buddhist religious worship in the North, of which 67 were in Mullaitivu. . These were ‘unlawful’ as there was no Sinhalese living in those areas. They must  be removed immediately, said the Tamil Separatist Movement  in 2018.  

Tamil Separatist Movement tried to  internationalize  this matter. Global Peace Support Group  made an appeal in March, 2010 to Hindus in India saying  Sinhalese Buddhism is waging a war against Hinduism in Īlam”.

The British Tamil Forum  launched in 2017 a book titled Proliferation of Buddhist structures in Tamil Homeland-sowing the seeds of disharmony.” The book  says that Buddhism is the root cause of the massive bloodshed and genocide in Sri Lanka”

In  January 2021 the  Tamil Separatist Movement sent a message to  Federation of Saiva (Hindu) Temples U.K, saying that concerted action by Hindus all over the world is urgently needed to halt the large-scale Buddhistization and colonization of lands belonging to Hindu Tamils in  Sri Lanka.

Federation of Saiva Hindu temples, UK, an umbrella body of 32 Hindu temples in the UK  issued a statement in 2023. They  named specific Hindu temples  which they said  had been  systematically targeted by the hate driven Archaeological Department”. They said that  this was  part of a political  strategy to  marginalize the Hindu community in Sri Lanka.

K  Annamalai , Tamil Nadu BJP President went to UK  in June 2023 and spoke at a Chamber in the House of Lords. The event was organized by British Tamil Sangam and Sangamam UK. He said  that  the emergence of Buddhist archaeological sites in the north and eastern provinces of Sri Lanka ,  has caused tensions between Tamils and Buddhists.  The Northern and Western provinces  of Sri Lanka have maintained a unique culture and identity for more than a thousand years,  said Annamalai  .

Tamil Separatist Movement plans to use the legal system to obstruct the building of temples. It was reported in November, 2020, that M.A. Sumanthiran, has formed an advocacy group of lawyers to deal with the Buddhist challenge to Tamil dominance. Twenty-seven attorneys-at-law attended the first meeting. The group vowed to challenge the government with lawsuits to claw back what Tamils have lost.  

Two plaints have been filed at the Trincomalee High Court. One plaint challenged the acquisition of state land to construct Buddhist temples in Kuchchaveli Divisional Secretariat area in Trincomalee District. The other challenged the high-handed acquisition of 354 acres of paddy land in Thennamaravadi, obtained a stay order in favor of the petitioners, prohibiting the transfer of the lands to Buddhist temples.

Tamil Separatist Movement charged that the  Department of Archaeology   has   obstructed Hindu worship  in  temples under their charge. They have restricted public access to  kovils citing ongoing archaeological research”. A youth who attempted to worship at a temple in Vedukkunarimalai, Vavuniya was arrested.

Tamil Separatist Movement hit ouit in all directions. Bhikkhus  who have come into the North and east to develop new temples were threatened and told to  go away.In August 2016 the Chief incumbent of the Sambodhi Vihara Temple in Kokilai, Mullaitivu Sri Tissapura Gunarathana thero said TNA Provincial Councilor Raviharan threatened him to stop developing the temple and leave  the area.

Tamil Separatist Movement   charged that Buddhist temples are built on the sites of Hindu temples and on private Tamil lands. While Tamil landowners whose properties were occupied by the Air Force in Keppapilavu were protesting, the military was reportedly seen constructing a Buddhist temple on their occupied land, said Adaalayam Centre.  

Tamil Separatist Movement charges that  Buddhists have destroyed Hindu Kovils.. M.A. Sumanthiran said, there is very clearly, a pattern and an agenda” in the escalating instances of attacks and vandalism on Hindu temple deities in the north.

Tamil Separatist Movement takes the position that it is being persecuted. It poses as a martyr. Many historical Hindu temples are under siege by the government which has declared virtual ‘holy war’ against Hindus and their places of worship, it said. Under the cloak of identifying Buddhist     ruins of archaeological importance, the Department of Archeology has laid siege to historical Hindu temples and build Viharas in their places in the north and east.

The ancient Kunjumappa Periyasamy Temple, located at Ilankaithurai Muhaththuvaram, on the coast above Verugal was worshipped by Tamil-speaking Veddahs and Tamils since ancient times. When the villagers returned in 2008, after the war they found the temple destroyed, and replaced by a large Buddha statue, and a new temple, constructed by the army.

The Malal Neeliyamman temple in Kallady, south of Ilankaithurai, was used by the LTTE for a communications tower for LTTE’s Voice of the Tigers radio station. The Hindu temple was destroyed by the Sri Lankan Air Force . The area was taken over by the military in 2006. Archaeology Department   thereafter designated the area as a historic Buddhist site and a Buddhist temple, Pashana Pabbatha Rajamaha Vihara, was built.

 When Tamil residents returned to their village in 2007, their attempt to reconstruct the destroyed temple on its original site was blocked by Ven.Ratnapura Devananda and the Sri Lankan military.  The Tamil people reconstructed the temple on the roadside. In 2016, this new temple was burnt to the ground. The court case was dropped in January 2019, reported Tamil Guardian.

 Verugal did not have a Sinhala population, but the military and Buddhist monks from the south grabbed land to build their temples, said PEARL. LTTE had used Verugal as a communication center and demolished a rock with six inscriptions to fix the radio transmission tower. LTTE   had   built a Sea Tiger base and a kovil at the site in 2003.

 After the war, The Archaeology Department designated the area as a historic Buddhist site. The ruins of an ancient dagoba, a korawak gala,   and other ruins of an ancient temple were scattered around an area of 50 acres.

In 2007 a new temple, Lanka Patuna Samudragiri Vihara’was built near the Buddhist ruins. The village was   renamed to Lanka Patuna”. This name is now official and appears on birth certificates. The Tamil residents do not like this, reported Tamil Guardian. (Continued)

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