Sri Lankan Buddhist centre attacked in Chennai

Envoy flies to Chennai after four monks are injured in the incident

The attack on the 120-year old Sri Lanka Maha Bodhi Society (SLMBS) centre in the heart of Chennai followed the recent killing of two Tamil Nadu fishermen allegedly by the Lankan navy. The centre is venerated as a popular temple of “Theravada” worship that is visited by over 1.20 lakh people annually.

The incident took place late Monday evening when miscreants barged into the centre in Egmore and damaged some furniture, glass-panes and electric fans. It was apparently to protest the killing of the two fishermen. The injured included four Buddhist monks.

Taking a very serious view of the attack, Kariyawasan first met chief secretary S Malathi and then Director-General of Police Lethika Saran to discuss the issue. He then visited the SLMBS centre, as police cordoned off the entire area and also called on the injured monks.

“I expressed the Lankan government’s regret and deep concerns over the attack on the Maha Bodhi temple here,” Kariyawasan told reporters here. The envoy was particularly concerned over Kamburugamuwe Vajira, the highly-respected visiting Buddhist monk, being one of those seriously injured in the attack. He said the monk, also the chancellor of the ‘Sabaragamuwa University’ near Kandy in Sri Lanka, would go back home on Tuesday night.

“We have very good relations with India and Tamil Nadu, but some people with sinister motives are trying to disturb and vitiate the good relations between the two countries,” said Kariyawasan.

The Tamil Nadu chief secretary was equally concerned and regretted the attack, he said. Urging that “we must keep our friendship” and sideline such extremist elements, Kariyawasan acknowledged India’s help to end the decades-long military conflict in the island. Denying that the Lankan navy was involved in the killings of the fishermen, he hoped that investigations on both sides would help determine who exactly were behind the ‘baffling’ killings.

“For, we believe the LTTE is no more in Sri Lanka and here, and so we don’t know who has done this thing,” rued Kariyawasan. Asserting that  there would not be any attack by the Lankan navy on TN fishermen, Kariyawasan admitted there were difficulties in fisher-folks recognising the International Maritime Boundary Line.

K Mahanama, head of the SLMBS here,  said after 1983—when some miscreants threw a bomb into the premises at the peak of the ethnic strife in Sri Lanka—this was the second time their centre was attacked.

Parts of the city remained tense as hundreds of volunteers of the pro-LTTE Dalit outfit, “Viduthalai Chiruthaikal Katchi” (VCK) headed by Thol. Thirumavalavan, staged a protest before the Sri Lankan Deputy High Commissioner’s Office here to condemn the fishermen’s killings.

Over 200 VCK men were arrested by the police, who also picked up two persons in connection with Monday night’s attack on the Buddhist centre. Another pro-LTTE outfit “Naam Tamizhar,” headed by the Tamil film director Seeman, denied that his party was behind the attack.
 

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