Request to postpone St. Anthony’s festival rejected

(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) – The Tamil Nadu Coordinator for the Kachchativu St. Anthony’s festival, Fr. Sahayaraj, had asked for a postponement of the event fixed for Sunday (12), but the Jaffna Diocese had informed him that it could not be postponed for reasons beyond their control, The New Indian Express reported.

However, personnel of the Jaffna Diocese could not be contacted to confirm this.

According to sources, Fr. Sahayaraj had on Thursday (09), sought from the Jaffna Diocese through an Email, a postponement of the festival given the growing fishermen’s agitation in Tamil Nadu over the killing of a young Rameswaram fishermen allegedly by a Sri Lankan Naval rating on Monday (06).

The Diocese came back to Fr. Sahayaraj later in the day, with a negative reply.

Arrangements continued to be made by the Sri Lankan Navy to receive 4991 pilgrims from Tamil Nadu with dinner packets for Saturday evening (11) and breakfast and lunch on Sunday.

In the normal course, the pilgrims would have attended the main mass on Sunday at 9.00 a.m. had lunch and sailed back to Tamil Nadu later in the afternoon.

Earlier in the day on Saturday, a Sri Lankan Catholic Priest involved in organising St. Anthony’s Feast, told a Sri Lankan television channel that the pilgrims want to come for it but are being prevented by the agitators.

The agitators are asking for the arrest of the Sri Lankan Navy personnel and have rejected the compensation offered by the Tamil Nadu Government. They are insisting that Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj should see them and give them a concrete assurance that the guilty Sri Lankan Navy personnel is arrested and there will be no more shootings.

But neither Minister Swaraj nor any of the other 2 Junior External Affairs Ministers have come. The on-going election process in Uttar Pradesh is cited as the reason for the Ministers’ inability to respond.


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