In the foremost interest of the Buddha Sasanaya and its affairs a lawyer activist yesterday filed a fundamental rights petition seeking to safeguard and foster the Buddha Sasana against any attack or threats.
Petitioner N. Dharshana Weraduwage said his petition had been filed in the backdrop of the recent vandalism of a Buddhist shrine room in Mankulam.
The respondents cited by him include -- Northern Province Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran, Law and Order and Southern Development Minister Sagala Ratnayake, Buddha Sasana and Justice Minister Wijedasa Rajapakshe, Northern Province Governor Reginald Cooray and the AG on behalf of the President Maithripala Sirisena.
The petitioner said he was shocked and dismayed to read a news item headlined "Shrine room vandalised in Mankulam" published on page 1 of the August 31, Daily Mirror.
According to the news item, "A Buddhist shrine room erected within the premises of Special Task Force camp in Kanagarayankulam, Mankulam in the North had been vandalised on Monday 29.
“The camp set up after the war victory in 2009, does not exist in that location at present. The shrine room was constructed at the time for religious observances of the STF personnel.The Buddha statue has also been broken to pieces.”
The petitioner said this was not an isolated incident and during the past few months or even before, there have been demands for the removal of Buddhist Temples, Buddha Statues and shrines located especially in the Northern Province.
He said objections had been raised by many parties, including the NPC, MP R. Sampanthan and NPC councillor M. K. Shivajilingam.
He informed Court of a document addressed to Governor Cooray titled: “Defending the Building of Buddhist Viharas and Erecting Buddha Statues by the Army/Navy in the North is Bad Politics.”
It states that this was not the first case where Buddhist viharas and statues have been erected by the Sri Lankan armed forces in the North and East, especially after May, 2009.
At Kanagarajankulam in the Kilinochchi district; at Mankulam in Vavuniya district; at Iranamadu in the Mullaitivu district; a Buddhist vihara at Vadduvaakal in the Mullaitivu district; a huge Buddhist vihara is under construction in Kokkulai in the Mullaitivu district after destroying the Hindu temple Karunaaddu Pillayar and a Buddhist vihara named Mahatota Raja Maha Vihara has been built within 50 meters of the famous Thirukethiswaram temple in the Mannar district.
The petitioner said in the event prompt, adequate and effective, action be taken to protect the Buddhist Temples, Shrines, Statutes and the Archaeological and Historical sites located in or around the Northern Province, they are at serious threat of being destroyed, vandalized or removed by force causing irreparable damage to Buddhist History, Culture, Religion, which the state is constitutionally mandated to give the Foremost Place and to Foster and Protect, by Article 9 of the Constitution.
He is asking Court to rule that no person on the sovereign territorial soil, seas and the air space has the power or authority whatsoever to interfere negatively or act against the affairs of the Buddha Sasana except as provided for by the Constitution.
The petitioner is asking Court to direct the respondents to take immediate action to investigate the incidents reported and to re-build, restore and refurbish all movable and immovable properties the Buddhist Shrine at Kanagarayan Kulam in Mankulam. (S. Selvanayagam)