Troops, paramilitaries disrupt temple festival

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 25 August 1999, 16:22 GMT]
The annual festival at the Siththaandy Murugan temple was disrupted last night by Sri Lanka Army troops and marauding cadres of the Razeek group. The annual festival draws thousands of devotees of the Tamil warrior god from many parts of the eastern province. Siththaandy is 21 kilometres north of Batticaloa.

The Siththaandy festival concludes tomorrow with the water cutting ritual. Senior members of the trustee board told the TamilNet correspondent who met them this afternoon that the Razeek group was chiefly involved in disrupting the festival last night.

They had searched the inner sanctum of the temple and had climbed the Gopuram.

Hundreds of SLA troops, Razeek group cadres and members of other Tamil paramilitary groups from the neighbouring Morokkottaanchenai camp had rounded up the temple premises last night around 10 p.m.

All the devotees at the temple were ordered by the troops and the para militaries to sit on the outer street of the precincts. Residents in the area were also ordered to come out. Their homes were searched.

Meanwhile, according to trustee board members, cadres of the Razeek group and some SLA troops had walked with their boots on into the inner sanctum of the temple, carrying their weapons along. Other cadres of the Raazeek group had climbed the Gopuram (tower shaped super structure).

Later, some of them had buried a bayonet and a hand grenade in the sand in the inner street of the temple precincts, chasing away some devotees who had seen them. They had then ordered some boys at the temple to dig the spot.

When the buried grenade and the bayonet were found the SLA soldiers and the Raazeek group cadres had commanded all the males among the devotees at the temple to dig every part of the inner street with their bare hands.

The SLA troops and Razeek group cadres were, meanwhile, indiscriminately assaulting devotees in the temple premises with firewood and sticks according to sources in Siththaandy.

The male devotees who were asked to dig had then been asked to run. The Razeek group and the SLA troops had continued in this manner until the crack of dawn today. They had left around 5.30 a.m. after threatening everyone at the festival to keep silent about their rampages in the temple.

The Siththaandy temple trustee board members said that today's noon ‘Pooja’ had to be held at 6 p.m. this evening as a result of last night's disruption.

They charged that the Raazeek group was the mainly responsible for defiling the temple last night.

 

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