Crowds stone soldiers in temple fracas
[TamilNet, Saturday, 14 October 2000, 09:22 GMT]
The annual festival of the Vallipuram Aalvaar temple in Jaffna was disrupted Friday evening when crowds of devotees who were angered by the Sri Lanka Army's refusal to allow them to the beach for the water cutting ceremony ('Theertham') stoned soldiers and a state radio van. The TamilNet's Vadamaradchi correspondent said that three SLA soldiers were wounded by stones hurled at them by the crowd.
He said that four devotees whose involvement in the fracas was suspected were taken to the SLA camp in Vallipuram and were severely assaulted last night.
Trouble started when the SLA said Friday afternoon that it can allow only a limited number of devotees from among the thousands who had thronged to the temple's annual water cutting ceremony to bathe in the sea along with the image of the god. The Aalvaar temple is on the eastern coast of Jaffna in the village of Vallipuram. The SLA has a large camp here which guards the strategic coastal road from Pt.Pedro to Nagar Kovil.
The SLA's base in Nagar Kovil has been under constant attack by the Liberation Tigers since most of Jaffna's southeastern coast was captured by them (the Tigers) in April this year.
SLA sources in Vallipuram, however, defending their action, said that allowing a large crowd on the beach could have posed a security threat to their defences near the temple.
The van stoned by the devotees at the temple belongs to the Tamil radio station that broadcasts special programs for civilians in Jaffna from the SLA's sprawling Palaly military base on the peninsula's northern coast. The station is a branch of the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) but is run by the Directorate of Psychological Operations of the SLA.