12:00 PM

The Island editorial on Madhu Liberation

It is heartening that a programme is now underway to demilitarize the Madu Church at long last. The liberation of that holy shrine from the clutches of a bunch of criminals who had turned it into an unholy fortress has brought relief not only to the Catholic community in this country but also to all Sri Lankans who treasure it as a national asset.

Those who claimed that the Madu shrine was free from the LTTE presence stand exposed for their diabolical lies. Well fortified bunkers, trenches and other tell-tale marks demonstrate that the Tigers had launched offensives against the army from the Madhu precincts in a bid to have the shrine destroyed in retaliatory fire.

Stepping into a place of worship is an enlightening experience. The army may have realised from its successful operation that took Madhu back safely that it could defeat terrorism in a similar manner. The Madhu battle also demonstrated the daunting task that a professional army is faced with in confronting a band of terrorists who enjoy unbridled freedom to achieve their objective even at the expense of a much venerated shrine. Sadly, even some priests betrayed their bias for the LTTE. A section of the media is clutching at the proverbial straw claiming that the army has taken back a hollow shrine without a hallowed statue. A similar argument was peddled when Jaffna was recaptured in 1995. It was claimed that the army had taken a ghost town and its victory was not worth its trouble. But, after sometime the forcibly evicted people returned - that forcible eviction didn't trigger an angry reaction from human rights activists in Colombo! - and Jaffna came alive. Likewise, the statue of Our Lady is bound to return to its venerated abode, sooner or later.

The Tigers have proved once again that they are no respecters of religions. They have perpetrated heinous acts of terror against places of worship and the clergy, as we pointed out on Feb. 14 in the aftermath of its shell attack on the Thallady camp. They mowed down scores of Buddhist devotees in Anuradhapura in 1985 and gunned down 33 young Buddhist monks at Arantalawa in 1987. In 1998, they bombed the Sri Dalada Maligawa, the most venerated Buddhist shrine in this country. Among the crimes the LTTE has committed against Muslims includes the massacres inside two mosques at Eravur and Kaththankudy in 1990. Hundreds of Muslims were shot and hacked to death while they were praying. Last year, the Tigers killed a kurukkal in the Eastern Province as he had blessed President Mahinda Rajapaksa during his visit to the East. This year began with a crime the LTTE committed inside a kovil in Colombo, where UNP MP T. Maheswaran was shot dead in cold blood.

Therefore, those who support, in any way, an outfit which doesn't hesitate to sacrifice anything human or divine on the altar of terrorism are making a disservice not only to this country and her people abhorring terrorism but also mankind. The LTTE is driven by the same fanatical terror as the al queda-Taliban combine that brought down the world famous Bamiyan Buddha statues in Afghanistan.

None will be safe from the LTTE being encircled in the Wanni. Prabhakaran's desperation knows no bounds. Those whom God wishes to destroy, they say, he first makes mad. He doesn't need anyone else to destroy him. He is his own enemy!

Now that the Madhu shrine has been secured, the onus is on the government to ensure its safety and preserve its sanctity. It must strictly be a demilitarized zone. Render unto God what's God's!