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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2960

They were only protesting to the Video cameras - Deputy Minister Neomal Perera

Colombo, 29 December, (Asiantribune.Com): "I use to make annual pilgrimage with my family to 'Lourdes of the East' Annai Velankanni Church. Similarly I made the pilgrimage to Velankanni temple on this 27th December, with my family – my wife and three children, said Sri Lankan Deputy Minister of Fisheries Neomal Perera.Deputy Minister Neomal PereraDeputy Minister Neomal Perera

He said that after the prayers in the temple he used to go and meet Sri Lankan fishermen who are held in custody in prisons in Tamil Nadu for the offence of unintentionally straying into Indian waters. "I used to convey to them my personal Christmas and New Year greetings and also that of the families of those fishermen back in Sri Lanka."

The Deputy Minister told Asian Tribune that he has lot of friends in Tamil Nadu and also meet them and socialize with them whenever he comes on a pilgrimage to Tamil Nadu. "Tamils are my best friends, not only in Tamil Nadu but also in my electoral district of Chillaw, as I also represent thousands of Tamil and Tamil speaking voters who voted for me to elect me as a Member of Parliament."Deputy Minister Neomal Perera with his familyDeputy Minister Neomal Perera with his family

When describing the sequence of events, Deputy Minister Neomal Perera said that he spent the 26th night at Karaikal District Collectors Guest House.

He said that on the following day morning they left for Velankanni for prayers and to attend the Church mass with his family.

He said Velankanni temple is located 12 km south of Nagapattinam on the Coromandel Coast, in Tamil Nadu. He explained that the shrine is dedicated to "Our Lady of Health", the Madonna of Velankanni and is popularly known as 'Sacred Arogya Matha Church'. Virgin Mary is believed to have miraculous healing powers, he added.

Deputy Minister told Asian Tribune , "when I was leaving to the church there were some demonstration obstructing our vehicle, but I did not understand why they protested in front my vehicle.

He said, "The police were there when the incident took place and I was told consequently that the police tried to calm the situation.

"Then my children got down from the vehicle and started recording the incident in their video camera. Similarly I saw Sun TV camera crew and some other TV crews also videographing the demonstration. When I got down from the vehicle I saw group of people demonstrating to the video cameras. After a while police cleared the protestors and we continued with our journey to the temple, Deputy Minister said.

When asked why not he doesn’t visit Madhu Church in the Mannar district, Deputy Minister said "I used to go regularly to Madhu. I even went to Madhu last August with my wife."

Deputy Minister said when the Ceasefire Agreement was in force, he used to visit Madhu Church during 2002 to 2004 period. Then he said during those period, the Madhu area was under the control of the Tamil Tigers.

"During those days when we went from Puttalam, Chillaw and Negambo we were used to be bodily searched by the LTTE cadres and also we have to pay Tax to them go to the Madhu Church.

He said that as the Madhu Church has now come under the cleared areas, the Government is now considering allowing pilgrims and those wishes to go to Madhu Church without any checking by February or March 2009.

- Asian Tribune -

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