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Police attempts to suppress ancient Tamil temple continue in Vavuniya

The protracted battle between Tamils in Nedunkeni and the Sri Lankan archaeology department continues as Vavuniya police have enforced a ban on any development being undertaken at an ancient temple in the area, despite urgent works being necessary to ensure continued access to the temple which sits in the rocky hollow of a mountain.

The ladder which led to the Athi Aiyyanar temple on Vedukkunari malai (mountain) in Olumadu-Nedunkeni had seriously deteriorated and become dangerous to climb on, the temple administration said.

However Nedunkeni police have blocked the temple from installing a new ladder, citing the archaeology department’s ban on any development of the temple.

Although the temple administration appealed to the police stating the work would only involve replacing an already existing ladder as it was ruptured and dangerous, they were told to seek permission instead from the archaeology department.

Temple staff have removed the old ladder in the interim, severely diminishing accessibility to the temple.

The temple and area have been causes of tension in recent months as the archaeology department attempted to appropriate the lands and block public access to them, provoking anger among locals to whom the ancient temple and mountain are of deep historic and spiritual significance.

After protests, the department said that worshippers could access the temple but introduced a blanket ban on any changes being made to the temple or lands.