Addressing widespread rumours and uproar regarding the refusal of the Department of Archaeology to renew the excavation permit granted to prominent Archaeologist Prof. Raj Somadeva, head of the Department Prof. Prishantha Mandawala says the decision was made as Somadeva along with 14 other researchers had not submitted the research reports and lists of artefacts found as required. “He merely handed over a document with newspaper articles regarding his recent work,” Mandawala said stating that instead, the Department requires researchers with permits to hand over extensive research reports about the work carried out.
Mandawala also denied claims that Somadeva was singled out and the decision has any political aspect to it. “He is not the only researcher who was denied a permit,” Mandawala said adding that the Department decided to take a tough stance as its repeated requests for detailed research reports went unheeded.
However, he also assured the ongoing excavations at the recently discovered Mass grave in Mannar by Somadeva will not be affected. “He does not need the Department’s permit to carry out work there,” Mandawala said. But supporters of Somadeva have been trying to portray the incident as an attempt to stop Somadeva’s work and hide certain aspects of the country’s history. Among others who have been denied permits are Prishantha Gunawardena, Jagath Weerasinghe, Gamini Adhikari, Sumanasiri Wawwage, Anura Manatunga, Arya Lagamuwa and several others.