"Windowless" buses carry devotees to temple
[TamilNet, Sunday, 05 March 2000, 05:10 GMT]
The Sri Lanka Army (SLA) used a convoy of buses with fully covered windows to take devotees from Mannar to Thiruketheeswaram temple, denying the passengers of any outside view during the trip, said sources in Mannar.
Devotees assembled at the civil administration office of Thallady camp at 3pm to travel to the 'Sivarathiri' festival at the Thiruketheeswaram temple. The journey started at 5 pm after a two hour delay.
All windows of the buses were covered with thick paper except driver's front glass panel which had a small opening allowing him to navigate the bus.
Devotees attending the festival were fingerprinted, photographed and video-taped two days prior to the 'blind-folded' trip.
However, due to strong protest by R. Yogarajan (MP) when the soldiers tried to cover the windows of his bus, the soldiers allowed his bus to proceed without any cover.
A Human Rights Organization in Colombo has accused the SLA of violating the rights of the devotees.