President’s ‘illegal’ order on Kurundumale blamed for resignation of Archaeology DG
Wednesday, 14 June 2023 00:15 – – 22
JHU leader says President nor cabinet can instruct the Department of Archaeology on its duties
Claims the department is bound to implement the Antiquity Ordinance
Accuses President of getting his history wrong and invites him to read books on the topic
Says Wickremesinghe is accepting the lies of Tamil MPs without question
Sinhala nationalist political party, the Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU) yesterday blamed President Ranil Wickremesinghe and his ‘illegal’ order to release lands belonging to the Kurundumale archaeology site to the public as the reason behind the sudden resignation of the Archaeology Department Director General Prof. Anura Manatunga.
Leader of the party, MP Udaya Gammanpila said Manatunga was forced to step down due to his refusal to carry out illegal orders issued by the President.
“The Department of Archaeology is not able to merely carry out orders issued by the President or the cabinet. Its main responsibility is to implement the Antiquity Ordinance. But the President is instructing the Director General to not declare 275 Acres as archaeologically important and that it is in excess. The President or cabinet can decide this. It is a duty of Archaeologists to do so based on evidence according to the Antiquity Ordinance,” he said.
Gammanpila said the President’s order is illegal and therefore Manatunga has tendered his resignation due to his inability to carry out Wickremesinghe’s instructions.
Gammanpila also denied Wickremesinghe’s claims that the Kurundumale Vihara was built by Tamil Buddhists. “According to the Mahavamsa, this was built by King Khallata Naga of Anuradhapura who reigned between 110 – 103 BC. The Sinhala Atthakatha were written at this Vihara,” he claimed.
“The current President’s political leader Cyril Matthew in 1983 in an appeal to UNESCO identified the Kurundumale Vihara as a historical site. I invite the President to read the text by his own political leaders about the subject,” he added.
Noting the area is a temple complex, the MP said stone markings have been placed as ruins have been discovered in the land spanning 275 acres. “Excavations have not been carried out yet. Land can only be released after the excavations are completed,” the MP said. He asked if the President can assure that the site will not be destroyed as the 2000-year-old Kilaveddi Bodhi in the North was destroyed on 29 July 1976.
The MP also accused the President of accepting claims of Tamil MPs that people in the area farmed on the land for over a century. “He accepts these lies without questions,” he said.