Sept 01, Colombo: The government is committed to protect the rights of all religions in the country and treats all religions on an equal footing, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa said Sunday.
President Rajapaksa made this comment at a ceremony held today to vest with the public the reconstructed St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church which was damaged in the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami in Wakarai in the Batticaloa District of Eastern Province.
Addressing the people participated in the ceremony, the President said the preaching made by all religious leaders that people should live in peace, unity and reconciliation devoid of hate and enmity are more suitable for the contemporary period than the past and all Sri Lankans should live as one nation in unity.
He said the clergy of all religions is responsible for establishing a righteous future generation with tolerance and devoid of hate.
The President said the government has provided everything the people lost in the tsunami except the lives and the areas battered by the ethnic conflict have seen rapid development since the end of the war.
Governor of Eastern Province Mohan Wijewickrama, Deputy Ministers M.L.A.M. Hisbullah and Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan and religious leaders of all faiths participated in the occasion.
The President also opened the Panichchankerni Bridge in Wakarai reconstructed at a cost of 1.06 billion rupees with a grant from the Japanese government. The bridge was blown up by the retreating Tamil Tiger terrorists in 2006.
A new causeway, 207 meters in length, was also constructed to enter the new Panichchankerni Bridge. The 133-meter long and 10.4-meter wide bridge is expected to boost economic activities in the Eastern Province.
Chief Minister of Eastern Province Abdul Majid Najeed , Deputy Minister of Highways Nirmala Kotelawala, Governor of Central Bank Ajith Nivard Cabraal, President's Chief of Staff Gamini Senarath and Deputy Ambassador of Japan in Colombo Ms. Ishii Subha also took part in the occasion.
(Photos by Nishanka de Silva and Nalin Hewapathirana)