Eastern Governor’s wife interferes in temple issue

By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan

A Hindu temple, located in Muttur, Trincomalee is at the centre of a controversy and Police have ordered devotees living in the villages of the area to refrain from carrying out any reconstruction work until the Department of Archaeology investigates to see whether an ancient Buddhist temple had existed on the site.

This follows rival claims were made by Buddhists as well as Hindus to this site in Sampur,……which in turn led to a shouting match between local worshippers and outsiders, including Deepti Bogollagama, wife of the Eastern Province Governor.

The controversy erupted after two Buddhist Monks visited the site on 19 December and laid claim to it. This was shortly after the local Hindu worshippers had cleared the site using bulldozers.

Three days later, the Governor of the Eastern Province Rohitha Bogollagama, along with his wife, the District Secretary, the Trincomalee Deputy Inspector General of Police and other officials visited the temple site and had a discussion there. At that time, local worshippers were prevented from entering the temple and were seated some distance away. In a video recording of the incident, Deepti Bogollagama is seeing approaching the worshippers and asking them to leave.

Then the local people, mostly women, begin shouting back at her. The ruckus ended with the Police intervening to clear the site. The locals are mostly Tamil speaking Adivasis who worship Murugan and Kaliamma at this site called Soodaikaadu Maththalamalai Tirukumaran. The devotees claim that they have been worshipping here for more than a century. President of Hindu Gurumaar Sangam of Trincomalee, Kurukkal Siva Sri R. Bhaskaran speaking to Ceylon Today said that this particular kovil was registered with the Government in 2013 and the registration number is HA/5/TM272. This was subsequently confirmed by the Ministry of Hindu Cultural Affairs.
During the war, the Kovil was in Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam held territory and some people who lived there left and were returning to resettle over the past few years.

We were unable to speak to Governor Bogollagama as repeated telephone calls were not put through as his staff said he was busy with meetings.

Officials confirmed to Ceylon Today that the Department of Archeology will be conducting excavation activities at the premises to find out whether or not a Buddhist Temple was there before the Hindu Kovil was constructed.

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