Angry crowd, SLA face-off defused in Mannar

[TamilNet, Monday, 24 November 2003, 17:13 GMT]
A showdown between Sri Lanka army and a large crowd of angry people was averted in Mannar Monday night after the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission persuaded troops garrisoned at the local co-operative society building to return a Heroes’ Day memorial depiction the soldiers had removed from the town centre. The angry crowd, demanding that the SLA return the memorial depiction, stopped buses from Mannar town to Colombo and other long distance destinations Monday night.

A group of soldiers from the SLA garrison at the town’s entrance surrounded the Mannar main bus station Monday night around 8.20 p.m. and removed a depiction of Heroes’ Day memorials that was on display there. The troops also stopped the Heroes’ Day songs that were being played at the bus station.

The troops took away the depiction to their camp in the co-operative society building.

As word spread about the SLA’s action, a large, angry crowd gathered in the town centre and moved towards the garrison, shouting against the military.

Hearing of the trouble, Mannar Police headquarters inspector Mr. U. A. J Premasiri and Assistant Superintendent of Police Mr. Shantha Udapamunuwa arrived at the scene and unsuccessfully tried to persuade the angry crowd to disperse.

Meanwhile the SLMM contacted Mr. C. Amirthab, the head of the LTTE’s political division in Mannar, and urged him to intervene in the matter.

The angry crowd refused to listen to LTTE official, telling him that it was a matter between the townspeople and the SLA and hence he should keep out of it.

However, before the stand off between the inflamed crowd and the tense SLA soldiers occupying the town’s co-operative society building could erupt into a confrontation, the SLMM coaxed the military to hand back the Heroes’ Day memorial depiction.

The SLMM then put it back at the place from where it was removed by the SLA.

Mannar Police expressed regret over the incident.

 

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