An Archaeological Department team led by a Buddhist monk has threatened an elderly man who was clearing his own land in the Thannimurippu village in Mullaithivu District to carry out agricultural activities. They have also blocked his attempt to clear the land.
The incident took place yesterday evening (27).
Peranantham was involved in clearing and levelling his land at Thannimurippu, Kumulamunai in the Thannimurippu GS Division in Mullaithivu District.
A team of officials from the Archaeological Department, led by a Buddhist monk who visited the site at the time, said the land area was an archaeological conservation site and that nothing could be done in the land.
Mullaitivu police and forest department officials also visited the spot and warned the land owner not to continue clearing the land. They also asked the landowner to visit the Mullaithivu police station.
This area belongs to the Thannimurippu GS Division where the Tamil people have been living and engaged in agricultural activities for centuries. After the war, people are now clearing their lands in the area to engage in agricultural activities. Trees have been planted to mark the boundaries of these lands for a long time and there are fruit trees like mango, jackfruit and coconut in the lands.
Since January, the military and the Department of Archaeology have been engaged in attempts to expropriate public lands in the guise of conducting excavations in the nearest Kurunthur Hill area. Vidura Wickramanayaka, Sri Lanka’s state minister for ‘national heritage’, accompanied by army soldiers and archaeology department officers, led an event on 18th January at Kurunthoormalai in which a new Buddha statue was placed and consecrated at the site of the Athi Aiyanar temple.
The temple site, on a hilltop in the Kumulamunai area of Mullaitivu, has been the target of intense landgrab efforts by Sinhala Buddhist monks, met with fierce resistance from locals which in 2018 led to a court order decreeing that no changes could be made to the site. The court also stated that the archaeology department had abused its power in allowing Buddhist monks to survey the area.