(Full Text of Letter Dated 14 September 2022 sent by Tamil National Alliance(TNA) Leader and Trincomalee district MP Rajavarothayam Sampanthan to President Ranil Wickremesinghe Regarding Issues relating to the Thirukkoneshwaram Temple)
THIRUKONESHWARAM – “DAKSHANA KAILASH” RENOWNED HIND U TEMPLE IN TRINCOMALEE AND TRINCOMALEE HARBOUR
I am informed that in recent times certain meetings have been held in Trincomalee wherein activities relating to the above two institutions Thirukoneshwaram – Dakshana Kailash and Trincomalee Harbour have been discussed and certain decisions are to be taken.
May I first deal with
1. Thirukoneshwaram – Dakshana Kailash the ancient temple was destroyed in 1623 by the Portuguese Viceroy Constantain Desa. The temple is said to have had 1000 pillars, 3 Rajagopurams, two abutting the sea on either side and one in the center.
Portuguese historians at the time of Rev Queroz stated that most of the Hindus in the world including those in India venerated this temple more than any other temple. This temple was regarded by them as the ‘Rome of the East”.
2. Sir Paul Peris the eminent Sri Lankan has in his historical works has stated that long before the arrival of Vijaya in Ceylon, there existed in Ceylon five Eashwarms of Lord Siva – Naguleshwaram and Thirukethesewaram in the North, Thirukoneshwaram in the East, Muneshwaram in the West and Thondeshwaram in the South. This temple is said to be on the decline while the other four temples are flourishing. These five Siva temples are said to have been constructed all around Ceylon in the North, East, West and South to protect the country. Vijaya was the precursor of the Sinhala Race.
3. Indian Prime Minister Charan Singh who went to Thirukoneshwaram to worship as he alighted from the Vehicle uttered the following words ‘I have come to Dakshana Kailash’. The antiquity and Sanctity of this temple needs to be preserved.
In recent days there have been some proposals which I wish to bring to your notice. Thirukoneshwaram is situated inside the Fort Fredric. One enters the area from the main gate on the front of the fort. Some decades ago some Army personnel occupying part of the Fort Fredric constructed a statue of Lord Buddha on the part of the land occupied by them. People who wished to worship at Thirukoneshwaram and Lord Buddha entered the fort through the main gate and worshipped. There was no other route to enter the fort and worship Lord Buddha and Thirukoneshwaram.
In recent days a proposal has been made that a new route be opened to Lord Buddha Statue and from there to Thirukoneshwaram. This is not necessary and can result in persons encroaching on the route and occupying land which can only result in the sanctity and piety of Thirukoneshwaram Temple and Lord Buddha statue being diminished.
Some years ago some traders from Ratnapura were brought and installed on the route to koneshwaram by a former member of Parliament which resulted in the sanctity and Piety of this area being diminished. Meat and Fish were cooked in these temporary structures by these persons. A decision was taken that these persons be shifted from this area but not been implemented.
“I KINDLY REQUEST THAT THE OPENING OF THIS NEW ROUTE ON A SIDE UPTO LORD BUDDHA STATUE UNTIL KONESHWARAM BE STOPPED”
This will only result in evil being done.
I am also informed that some persons claiming to be Archeological officials have visited this area and they could have their own plans.
Former President proclaimed the Eastern Province as an area of Archeological investigation and appointed a Presidential Task Force consisting of persons all Sinhalese and Buddhist to perform the function inclusive of identification and allocation of state land to Buddhist temples which make such claim.
I sent the former president a letter copy of which I annex hereto subsequent to which as far as I am aware no further action have been taken. This proposal also may be activated.
I am also informed that certain proposals have been discussed to change District Secretaries and Divisional Secretaries areas in such a way as to severely distort Historical Habitation of land for generations and centuries by Tamils.
Under the Indo Sri Lanka Agreement an International Treaty the Northern and Eastern provinces were accepted as areas of Historical Habitation of Tamil and Tamil speaking people.
I am now informed that in the Northern extremity of Trincomalee a larger chunk of land is said to be withdrawn from the Trincomalee District and replaced by a large piece of land from the Anuradhapura District in the North Central Province. Primary purpose of this is to rupture the Linguistic Contiguity of the Northern and Eastern Provinces. A similar proposal is to be implemented in the south of the Trincomalee District bringing into the Eastern Province a large portion of land from the Polanaruwa District whilst at the same time removing and attaching to the Polunaruwa District a large block of land from the Trincomalee District Eastern Province. This will result in the disruption of the maritime boundaries both to the North and South with the possibility of grave repercussions and grave consequences to the Trincomalee Harbour said to be the second best in the world. Neither the Tamil speaking residents living in these areas nor our neighbor or closest countries would approve of this step. The whole objective of this is to extinguish the linguistic contiguity between the North and eastern provinces on both North and South of Trincomalee District.
The conversion of Eastern Province into a majority Sinhala Province and the disruption of the Linguistic Contiguity between the Northern and Eastern Provinces have been a long term objective of the majoritarian Sinhala Governments.
I wish to record instances of such thinking.
1. In early 1975 large chunks of land in the Pulmoddai and Thenamaravadi Villages and other lands were transferred to Anuradhapura Divisional Secretary’s Division under whose jurisdiction land was alienated only to Sinhala not a single Tamil or Muslim was given land. The land continued to be under the control of the Divisional Secretary Anuradhapura until there was a change in government. This position was opposed by the Tamil people who insisted that land from Trincomalee District be brought back to Trincomalee District. The Tamils through these steps ensured the continuance of the Linguistic Contiguity even though the land which was barren land was taken over and occupied entirely by Sinhalese.
2. In late 1984 Tamils in Thenmaravadi Village were attacked some were killed many injured and houses were burnt and property looted. The Tamil people fled from Thenamaravadi village to Mullathevu only some of them have returned.
In seeking to resolve the issue pertaining to the unit of devolution a former government proposed the trifurcation of the Eastern Province said to be as follows.
1. Amparai Majority Muslim Area
2. Batticaloa Majority Tamil Area
3. Trincomalee Majority Sinhala Area
The new proposal to bring land on the North from Anuradhapura from the North Central Province and on the South from Polanaruwa in the North Central Province are all intended make the Sinhala people the majority in the Eastern Province particularly a majority in the Trincomalee District. All these efforts have been resisted and every one of the districts in the Northern and Eastern provinces is majority Tamil speaking, and not a single District is majority Sinhala.
This is in conformity with the position that Tamils / Tamil speaking people are a people with the North and East being their Historical Habitation entitled to internal self – determination within the frame work of a United and Undivided Sri Lanka. This is what the Tamils / Tamil speaking people are demanding a political solution. This position is affirmed by all democratic verdicts since 1956.
I strongly urge that the issue be resolved on this basis rather than steps being taken which will only prolong the problem.
Member of Parliament
Hon Prime Minister
Hon Minster of Archeology
Director General of Archeology
Assistant Director of Archeology Trincomalee
Governor Eastern Province
Government Agent Trincomalee District
Divisional Secretaries – Town & Gravets / Kuchchaveli / Verugal Iechelampathai