SLA prevents devotees from Shiva temple
[TamilNet, Saturday, 29 July 2000, 17:17 GMT]
The Sri Lanka army refused permission to Saivite devotees to pray at the ancient Shiva temple in Thirukketheeswaram in the Mannar district on Sunday for the Aadi Amavaasai festival. A section of the 21 Division of the SLA is camped in the precincts of the temple. More than five hundred devotees had applied through the temple trustee board for permission to pray at the temple tomorrow.
The devotees were not permitted because of the security concerns of the SLA unit that is camped in the precincts and immediate environs of the temple sources in Mannar said.
The Sri Lankan President promised the temple trustees, Hindu organisations and the Tamil United Liberation Front last year following strong protests that the army would soon vacate the shrine's premises.
The government sent a delegation of Tamil members of Parliament and journalists to Mannar to visit the temple. The delegation complained on its return to Colombo that Thirukketheeswaram was in disrepair and that the army had not completely vacated its environs.
"That the army has refused permission to devotees shows clearly that it continues to be encamped in the temple despite the promise given by the President" said a member of the trustee board.
A large number of Tamil temples, including the historical Koneswarar Kovil, the Maviddapuram Kandaswamy Kovil, the Keerimalai Naguleswarar Kovil etc., are occupied by the Sri Lanka army despite protests by Saivite organisations and Tamil political parties.