Fibreglass statue of ‘Mother Mary’ torched, one arrested

By Madura Ranwala

A fiberglass statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, valued at around Rs. 650,000, which had been installed on Saturday, with a prayer service, on a bare land close to St. Mary’s school in Avissawella, was set ablaze by saboteurs in the early hours of yesterday, the parish priest told The Island yesterday. The parishioners had spent more than Rs. 2.5 million on the project to install the statue.

Police spokesman SSP Prishantha Jayakody said that the incident had taken place around 1.25 a.m.

The parish priest said that he and the parishioners had obtained the approval of the Mayor prior to the installation of the statue there as it was a bare land and there had been no objection from any party.

He said that the church was dedicated to Mary, ‘Mother of the Eucharist’ and it was the only one of its kind in Sri Lanka. They were preparing for the 150th jubilee celebration of the Church in the first week of October.

Although the statue was installed near the School, the church too was very close to it as it was behind the school.

The statue was installed 70 feet away from the Kegalle-Awissawella road.

A parishioner, who declined to be identified, told The Island that it could have been the act of an old boy of the school, running a grocery store close to the Avissawella police station, who was eying the spot for a shop. He had earlier scolded the parish priest in filth for trying to use the land to install the statue.

Police arrested a suspect late last evening and this was confirmed by the DIG of the Range.

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