The Navy has denied that it was planning to build any other shrine or religious monument on Kachchativu Island.
In a statement, it said as most of the personnel attached to the Naval detachment on the island are Buddhists, they pay homage to a modest little Buddha statue which is located in close proximity to their mess.
These Naval personnel are accommodated in a temporarily-constructed mess as no other fixed structures, besides St. Anthony’s Church, are allowed on the island.
“Other than the St. Anthony’s Church, there is no other religious shrine on the Kachchativu Island, and it is strongly emphasized that the Navy has no intention of building any other shrine or religious monument on the Kachchativu Island,” added the statement.
Priests, Tamil politicians both in northern Sri Lanka and in Tamil Nadu said the Navy has planted at least two Bo trees and placed two Buddha statues there, as confirmed by pictures taken and made public by Tamil photojournalist Kanapathipillai Kumanan.
Indian opposition MP Thol Thirumaavalavan has urged the Indian government to take immediate action to remove the statues.
Another opposition MP S. Ramadoss demanded India take over Kachchativu island, which was ceded to Sri Lanka in 1974.
Early this month, it was revealed that six Buddhist monks were present in the island during the annual feast of the church, when even Catholics are permitted to the island.
Church caretaker Fr. Satyaseelan Wasanthan called for the removal of the Buddha statues from the island.
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