SLA positions bar temple access

[TamilNet, Monday, 10 June 2002, 02:27 GMT]
Claims by the Sri Lanka Army that its troops have moved out from temples and schools occupied Kommanthurai, located on the Valaichenai road between Vantharumoolai and Chenkalady is a sham since the sentries, roadblocks and restrictions on access to the area continues, local civil society leaders said.

The SLA base in Kommanthurai has for several years now encompassed the heart of the village--a school, temples, library, the Grama-Sevaka’s office, play ground, they said.

On Friday, June 1, Col. V.L.R. Anthoniz of the SLA’s 23-3 brigade took a group consisting of SLMM representatives, education officials, UNICEF resident representative, and media persons, to show that the troops have moved out of the Sri Devi temple, and the Sri Sithivinayakar school and handed them over to the public.

But the temple trustee, Mrs. Santhamurthy Jeyagowry, told TamilNet that the temple was occupied by the SLA for 12 years and even now devotees can visit the temple only through the SLA base, and they are fearful of doing so. She lamented the fact that no one is allowed to stay in the temple at nights and that instead of the traditional 3 poojas a day, currently only one is possible and even that without any devotees being able to attend.

The Virakesari reported on June 3, that the trustees of the Vinayakar temple complained to the SLMM monitors and the SLA officers that opening the temple and the school to the public would be meaningless unless the public is allowed free movement to visit the temple and school without harassment.

The Virakesari said that sentries and concertina wire fences still encircled the Vinayakar temple and the Sithivinayakar school. It quoted Col. Anthoniz of the SLA as saying, that as the Kommanthurai SLA base falls within a high security zone it is not possible to open the main road for public.

 

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