Squabble over damaged Gandhi statue in Mullaitivu

Two leading Tamil politicians of North Sri Lanka, both belonging to the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), are squabbling over a controversial statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Mullaitivu town which was found destroyed, the New Indian Express reported.

TNA Member of Parliament Dr. Sivamohan had installed the statue recently, with the money given to him by the government for carrying out social and development works in Wanni electoral district, his constituency.

He told Express on Tuesday that the installation of the statue was part of his project to honour heroes, and that he had put up statues of Mother Teresa, poet Subramania Bharathi, and the local hero, Pandara Vanniyan, in several places with explicit consent from the authorities.

He was however shocked to find that Gandhi’s statue in Mullaitivu town, which he had put up recently, had been pulled down.

“Miscreants encouraged by a local politician had done it. I have asked the police to investigate,” the MP said. He declined to name the local politician.

“This local politician had been encouraging a social media campaign against the installation of the statue on the grounds that Gandhi had done nothing for the people of Mullaitivu,” Sivamohan said.

Asked to comment on the charge that he had put up the statue without official sanction, Sivamohan said that he had it cleared by the District Coordination Committee.(DCC).

“The DCC meeting was attended by the Northern Province Chief Minister. In addition to getting the sanction of the DCC, I had written to the Central Resettlement Minister D.M.Swaminathan and he had approved of it in writing,” Sivamohan explained.

Asked to comment on this, T. Ravikaran, a TNA member of the Northern Provincial Council (NPC) who has been against Sivamohan’s project, said that he has nothing against Gandhi or the installation of a statue in his honour in Mullaitivu. His opposition stemmed from the unauthorised way in which it had been put up.

“The statue does not have the authorisation of the local Pradheshiya Sabha,” Ravikaran contended.

“The installation was done in secrecy on a holiday and in the dead of night,” he said.

Ravikaran said that forces wanting to put up Buddha states in the Tamil areas might be encouraged by the way in which the Gandhi statue was up.

“These forces could also put up Buddha statues without proper authorisation,” he said.

“When the Tamils are protesting against the unauthorised installation of Buddha statues in areas in the North where there are no Buddhists, how can we allow the unauthorised putting up of a Gandhi statue?” he asked.

Ravikaran refuted the charge that the Gandhi statue had been pulled down deliberately.

“It may have fallen on its own, toppled by the wind. At any rate, the CCTV footage would show if someone had deliberately pulled it down,” he said.

He further said that about four local boys have been taken in by the police for questioning. (Colombo Gazette)


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