Heavy Sri Lankan police and security presence was deployed yesterday to surveil the annual Pongal festivities hosted at Neeraviyadi Pillaiyar temple in Semmalai, Mullaitivu.
Earlier this year, Thai Pongal festivities also took place during heightened police and military surveillance, present across Tamil temples and festivals, despite the end of armed conflict 11 years ago.
The temple’s premises have historically been encroached on, most recently when a Sinhala Buddhist monk constructed a large Buddha statue after entering temple premises. A Tamil language sign with the temple’s name was also destroyed and replaced with a Sinhala sign in 2018.
The Divisional Secretariat has also imposed special restrictions on temple festivals by allowing a fewer number of devotees to attend temple festivities even though events with up to 150 people were made permissible across the country.