2ND LEAD (Adds details, letter)

Sinhalicsiation threat looms again at Madu Road Junction in Mannaar

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 10 January 2018, 19:02 GMT]
The Administrating Priest of the Catholic shrine of Our Lady of Madu in Mannaar, Rev Fr S Emilianuspillai, has expressed serious concerns over the deteriorating level of militarisation of Madu Junction area despite repeated complaints from the Madu Church to the SL President Maithiripala Sirisena over the past two years. The SL military has transformed the Madu Road Junction, an area with spiritual significance into an amusement and business site by operating a restaurant and conducting parties at the locality, the Catholic residents of the area have complained. “The Army check point at the entrance to the Holy Shrine is a distraction and the main Army Camp at 6th milepost has been developed and appears like a small city by itself,” the Administrator of the Shrine of Our Lady of The Rosary noted in his letter to SL President.

Letter by Administrator of Shrine of Our Lady of Madu to SL President, dated 21 October, 2017
Letter by Administrator of Shrine of Our Lady of Madu to SL President, dated 21 October, 2017
Letter by Administrator of Shrine of Our Lady of Madu to SL President, dated 21 October, 2017
The city-like military camp at the 6th milepost appears with food stalls, shopping and lodging facilities for pilgrims.

“The Army personnel visit the Shrine and invite the pilgrims to come to the camp and avail themselves of these facilities which are just 3 km away from the Shrine. This type of commercial activity by the military is definitely not in keeping with their role as protector of the country, especially when conducted in the vicinity of a sacred Shrine. This must be avoided at all costs as otherwise the attention of the pilgrims will be diverted to the available comforts rather than to the spiritual nourishment they are seeking by coming to Madhu,” the Administrator further wrote to SL President.  

Madu Road Junction is located on Mannaar - Mathavaachchi Road where the road to Madu Church branches off.

The SL military is manning a check post at Madu Road Junction. There is also a mini camp with residences for Sinhala military officers.

The Administrating Priest has complained to SL President in 2016 and in 2017 with the concerns of militarisation.

Subsequently, the SL military maintained a low profile at the junction for some time until August 2017.

SL President Maithiripala Sirisena has replied to his latest letter with a promising response a month ago. However, the military activities have again increased at the junction, Catholic devotees complain.

“The Army check point at the entrance to the Holy Shrine is a distraction to the pilgrims who arrive there with expectation to see the Church and to experience a prayerful atmosphere for their veneration of our Lady of Madhu. This expectation is disturbed when they encounter the military personnel and the shops run by them. Therefore, it is imperative that the military presence at this location must be removed,” Fr S. Emilianuspillai said in his latest letter to SL President on 21 October 2017.

The Catholic people in Madu are also suspecting the Sinhala military for silently preparing to install a Buddha statue at the junction as there is an increasing trend of Sinhala Buddhist tourism being promoted from South towards Mannaar in recent months.

The previous regime of Mahinda Rajapaksa was openly promoting a Sinhala colony at the Madu Junction area.

Madu Road, the location of Sinhala settlement in Madu region
Madu Road, the location of Sinhala settlement in Madu region


Chronology:

 

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