SLA pulls down Heroes’ Day arches, festoons in Jaffna
[TamilNet, Friday, 21 November 2003, 12:41 GMT]
The Sri Lanka army in Jaffna deployed additional troops along the Kandy Road (A9) from Kodikamam to the entrance of the northern town Friday and pulled down decorative arches and festoons put up for the LTTE’s Great Heroes’ Day in many parts of the peninsula. The SLA also deployed many small unit foot patrols armed with machine guns in Jaffna Friday.
SLA troops tore down rows of red and yellow festoons along the Muniappar Road in Jaffna town Thursday night. Soldiers ordered drivers of auto-rickshaws in Jaffna town to remove Great Heroes’ Day flags on their vehicles.
An official of the auto-rickshaw union in Jaffna said: "We respected the army’s cultural feelings when it decorated this town for Vesak. No one tore the festoons or destroyed the lanterns and displays put up by the army in Jaffna for the Vesak Festival. So why don’t they respect our feelings when we honour our sons and daughters who laid down their lives so that we may live in freedom”. (Vesak is a Buddhist festival celebrated by the Singhalese. The Sri Lanka army is Sinhala Buddhist)
The military pulled down decorative arches for the Great Heroes day at Kaithady Junction Thursday night and at Puloly in Pt. Pedro on Friday morning. SLA troops also cut banners to mark the Great Heroes’ Day along Kaithady Junction.
A tense situation developed at Nelliyady Junction Thursday night when the SLA prevented a crowd of local residents from putting up commemorative arches for Great Heroes’ Day. The problem was resolved when the deputy leader of the LTTE’s political division, Mr. S. Thangan came to the area and spoke to the military about the meeting he had had with SLA’s deputy security forces commander for Jaffna on Thursday, according to TamilNet’s correspondent in Vadamaradchi.
The SLA stopped a group of local residents in Chavakachcheri from putting up a large commemorative arch at the town centre Thursday night.
"The army’s attitude towards the people of Jaffna in general and the LTTE in particular appears to getting actively hostile in recent weeks”, a Tamil National Alliance source in Jaffna told TamilNet.
However, Sri Lanka military officials in Jaffna said they had acted in the interests of maintaining law and order.
"We will neither permit any arches across the road nor any decorations, banners, festoons etc., within a radius of 50 metres around our camps and bunkers”, an SLA source in Jaffna town told TamilNet Friday.
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