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“Include us” – Sri Lankan Hindus appeal to India

Maravanpulavu K Sachithananthan
Leader, Sri Lankan Shiva Senai
 
Citizenship Amendment Bill presented today 09.12.2019 in Lok Sabha by the Honorable Home Minister attempts to redress longstanding grievances of Hindu refugees in India who do not want to return to their home lands.
 
The bill seeks to facilitate Hindu refugees from Afghanistan Pakistan and Bangladesh.
 
The situation for Hindus in all three countries is not different from that of the Hindus in Sri Lanka. But the bill has conveniently ignored the the ten thousand year old history of the Hindus in Sri Lanka.
 
Sri Lanka is the land the Hindus. Periodic introductions of religion and sects alien to the land had brought irrepairable damage to the Hindus in Sri Lanka.
 
Recent happenings require the attention of the Indian government and the Lok Sabha.
 
In 1958 at Pananthurai, 30 kilometres south of Colombo, during the height of arsom looting and damage to Hindu persons and properties, Hindu priest was burnt alive inside the Murugan Temple.
 
In 1983 during the anti Hindu riots, statue of Lord Ganesha situated at the entrance to the fort of Trincomalee was uprooted and thrown into the sea. A line was written in Sinhala language at the place where the statue was. It’s said Lord Ganesha had gone for a bath.
 
During the long drawn out struggle Hindus had since 1948, they lost nearly 3000 Hindu temples. That was the estimate in May 2009 when the war almost ended.
 
Post war semblance of peace and harmony has been intentionally disturbed by placing Hindus in a precarious situation.
 
Navatkuli is Hindu dominated village. Few Buddhist settlers colonized with government support. They started building a Buddhist vihara. The colony dispersed. The Vihars continues to be there in the midst of Hindus. This is in Jaffna district.
 
Kanakambhihai kulam Hindu temple is venerated by Hindus of Kilinochchi district. On the full moon day of Vaikasi it has been tradition of 1000 years or more that Hindus congregate in large numbers (say more than a lakh) to offer pongal to the deity. During 2017 statue of Buddha has been erected in the area close to the sanctum sanctorum preventing Hindus from taking their chariot procession. This is in Kilinochi district.
 
Archaeologicaly significant Hindu temple for Lord Ganesha is at Nayaru. During 2016 Buddha statue was erected subsequently an enclave of Buddhist presence dominated by Buddha priests sprang up. During 2019 after the Hindus celebratre their pongal, Buddhists damaged the flags to the irritation of Hindus. This is in Mullaitivu district.
 
At Murunkan on the banks of the Giants tank, a temple for Shakti was built during the time Giants tank was constructed nearly 2000 years ago. Untouched by other religionists until 2016, suddenly a Buddhist priest came to the temple and erected statue of Buddha. This is Mannar district.
 
Swami Vigyanand ji, International Secretary of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad had first hand personal experience of facing difficulties in taking over the historical Hindu Amman kovil at Kathirkamam  at Hambantota district Sri Lanka.
 
Kannya is tourist attraction for its antiquity. There are seven hot spring wells each having a different temperature. Ravana is said to have performed the last rites for his mother, when he constructed these hot spring wells. There is a Shiva temple and temple for Lord Ganesha. Post war the Buddhists came and started erecting structures for propagation of Buddhism. Recently in 2019 the trustee of the Lord Ganesha Temple begin reconstruction work to conduct the Maha kumbh abhishekam. Buddhist priests came and obstructed with assistance of their fellow believers. Now now the matter is subjudice. This is in Trincomalee district.
 
These are examples or instances. Post independent Buddhist majority exercises are aimed at damage and destruction to Hindu temples and in driving away the Hindus from their traditional homelands.
 
So much so today Hindus have fled to nearly 40 countries all over the world seeking refuge. 12 lacs of Hindu refugees from Sri lanka are spread across the world.
 
Except in India in almost all the countries these Hindu refugees enjoy citizenship or permanent resident status.
 
Since 1983 almost three hundred thousand Hindus are living in India as refugees. Of these around one hundred thousand are inside refugee camps and around 200000 living outside refugee camps.
 
Various incentives by the government of Sri Lanka and the UNHCR to move this refuges in India to Sri Lanka proved futile.
 
Even the families who returned, many have decided to go back to India because of the poor facilitation and continued discrimination.
 
For 35 long years around 300000 Hindus living in India are without citizenship. They do not have travel documents. They do not enjoy the same benefits Indians enjoy.
 
Out of these three hundred thousand nearly a third do not know their mother country. For them India is their motherland.
 
Situation for Hindus in Sri Lanka is not different from that of those in Afghanistan Pakistan of Bangladesh.
 
For the Hindu, the Sri Lankan situation is a fire place without flames. Post independent Sri Lanka is an example of this fire place fanning from time to time into flames by extremist Buddhist elements. The sober, the moderate and reason minded Buddhist practitioners have little or no say on these extreme elements. There is no social political judicial or other mechanism in place to control them.
 
We the Hindus in Sri Lanka appeal to the members of the Lok Sabha in India and to the government of India to include Sri Lanka as a country along with Afghanistan Pakistan and Bangladesh in the Citizenship Amendment Bill.
 
That will facilitate those Sri Lankan refugee Hindus who may want to remain India. The human angle should not be forgotten. Because they were born as Hindus and the Sri Lankan Buddhists extremists do not tolerate them, are they to perish without citizenship during their lifespan?
 
(09 12 2019)
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