Trincomalee visit - Religion, Politics, Issue of Religious Conversion etc.
I was in Trincomalee recently on a field research mission as part of a civil society group research team. I was able to witness heavy military presence in the city, with security personnel deployed almost at every junction in the city. The presence is much stronger than what it was in 2004 when I was at Trincomalee the last time. This signifies, perhaps the political developments in the district, which nevertheless has been a high conflict density zone, through out the history of the ethnic conflict.
The Buddha statue and the surrounding barbed wire has taken a lot of space of the Bus stand and one wonders with the heavily barbed wire around the place whether one can actually enter the premises and even atleast offer flowers to Lord Buddha. It is a sorry state of affairs in this country that religion has been pulled in to the whim of political arrogance that our politicians are famous for. The same can be said of how the Anti-conversion Bill is being dealt with. Whilst agreeing to the fact that there are certain religious groups in this country that take advantage of the economic status of people to convert them to their religions (only God knows why they do this.. And I wonder whether any religion actually thinks that by increasing the number of followers in their religion, the objectives of the religion being practiced can be met!!!). But these are matters that society should deal with and should not be pulled into politics thus violating the individual autonomous space of decision making that any person has entitlement to. As President Kumaratunge once noted (one of her sensible comments, I must say!) if Buddhism and Hinduism are to prosper the people who profess the religion should take the religious to the laymen and assist them in their social and economic development. I cannot but agree with her on this.