The tour of the media group was organized by the Buddhist nationalist outfit Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) earlier this month to familiarize the local media about the threats faced by Sinhalese communities in the Malativu and Vavuniya areas, which were at one stage under the control of the LTTE.
The Sri Sambodhi temple has been built in 2010 on the land that was earlier occupied by the government owned Kokilai Sinhalese high school. A conflict has been created, because this government owned land has been claimed by another individual. The temple was built with the help of army manpower and the then Defense Secretary Gotabaya Rajapakse has resolved this issue a few years ago when he advised the local government authorities to grant land to this claimant in a vacant block closeby. However, with the change in government in Colombo, this issue has now become a political football.
Local Sinhalese community members have indicated to the journalists that after the change in government TNA members have become aggressive and the TNA MP and Northern Province Lands Minister T. Ravikaran has visited the temple a number of times, threatened them and ordered construction work to be stopped.
Since then, an army officer who has been spearheading the construction activities has been transferred resulting in the suspension of the temple extension work. Subsequently, the Additional Secretary of the Land Ministry has issued an order to stop building work at the temple.
Temple authorities have told the media delegation that an associate of a local Christian priest Rev Rayappu Joseph, a journalist named Jude has been regularly visiting Kokilai and threatening the temple and the Sinhalese community there demanding them to evacuate the land.
Ven. Gunaratana has told the visiting media that both the Sri Sambodhi temple and the Kokilai Sinhalese community are constantly under threat and they fear for their lives. Thus he has called upon President Maitripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe to intervene to help resolve this problem and make the Kokilai Sinhala community feel safe.
Source: Helabima (translated from Sinhalese)