Has President Rajapaksa Appointed Defence Secretary Gen.Kamal Gunaratne as Head of Task Force to Implement “nationalistic” project to establish, through archaeological excavations, that the multi-ethnic Eastern province was once a Sinhala-Buddhist habitat ?
Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s decision to entrust the survey and preservation of archaeological sites in the ethnically-mixed Eastern Province to a Presidential Task Force headed by the Defense Secretary, appears to have a political objective.
Ostensibly taken at the instance of the Buddhist Advisory Council (including the Mahanayakes) the decision taken at a meeting on May 22, seems to be aimed at ensuring the hold of the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) on the Sinhala-Buddhist constituency in the Lankan parliamentary elections to be held in a couple of months.
Giving the task to the Defense Secretary, who is a former Major General, conveys the political message that any decisions taken by the Task Force will be enforced in military style. This gives the Sinhala-Buddhist nationalist lobby confidence that the Gotabaya government means business. This lobby believes that a manifest show of toughness is called for because Tamil nationalists (not just the pro-LTTE Eelamists) consider the North and East as their “Traditional Homeland” which had been encroached upon by the Sinhala-Buddhists in the post-independence period through systematic “colonization”.
Tamil militants had fought, albeit unsuccessfully, a 30-year war for a Homeland free of other ethnic groups. The Sinhala-Buddhist majority is apprehensive about a resurgence of the Tamil separatist movement and are anxious to reclaim what they consider to be their historical habitat which, in their view, was taken by force by Tamil speaking invaders from South India.
And it is on the Eastern Province that their eyes are set because it is here that the Sinhala-Buddhists have a foothold, forming as they do, a third of the total population.
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