The liberation of the Madhu Church precincts from the terrorists marks a watershed in the Northern war theatre. The troops trod with utmost caution in the sacred area, honouring a No Fire Zone arrangement, which the LTTE unfortunately violated. The soldiers ensured that no harm was caused to the Sacred Shrine, renowned throughout Asia.
The Army faced a formidable task vis-a-vis Madhu. The LTTE had heavily mined the area. The slightest propaganda by the troops and any damage to the Church would have sent the LTTE misinformation network into hyperdrive. It is to their credit that they managed this feat without literally falling into the traps laid by the LTTE, physically and metaphorically.
One unsolved mystery is why the Madhu Church authorities conveyed the Scared Statue of Our Lady of Madhu to another location in an LTTE-dominated area, in spite of repeated pleas by the clergy and laity to convey the statue to a Government-controlled area, so that Christians from both Sinhala and Tamil communities could pay homage to it.
We hope the priests will now return the Statue to its rightful abode, where it will be protected and venerated by all. The Government and the Army will spare no effort to preserve the sanctity of the church zone, which has seen conflict for a number of years.
It is not only the Madhu Church that has seen the ravages of conflict. The Sri Dalada Maligawa was attacked by LTTE terrorists 10 years ago.
The LTTE gunned down pilgrims in Anuradhapura in 1985. Many Buddhist places of worship in the North and East have been partially or completely destroyed. Kovils and mosques have also been affected.
It is an unwritten rule of war that places of worship are not attacked. But the LTTE has violated this rule many times. In the case of Madhu, newspapers reported how LTTE cadres virtually set up base in and around the Church. They disregarded the No Fire Zone.
Now that the Forces, and hence the Government, have regained the Madhu Church area, Christians can heave a collective sigh of relief. With the impending liberation of the entire North, pilgrims of all over Sri Lanka will soon be able to venerate this famous shrine in a free and peaceful atmosphere.
Courtesy: The Daily News
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