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Sectarian violence re-surfaces in Kattankudy

Police imposed a curfew in Kattankudy as two days of clashes between religious factions resulted in damage to over 30 houses and a number of vehicles. Orthodox Muslims and an Islamic sect that preaches pantheism clashed on October 2 and 3, damaging 32 houses and a van and burning down 3 motorbikes.


A deviate religious faction led by Abdur Rauff Moulavi, who often is in odds with the main Islamic religious authority, Jammiyathul Ulama and another group, were reported to be involved in this incident.


During the curfew, the town seemed deserted and persons entering the town defying the curfew were beaten and chased away by Police.


A group of Muslim youth ordered other Muslims not to perform certain Islamic rituals that had been practised for hundreds of years, reported The Island. When this request was turned down, they went against those Muslims who refused to do away with the usual rituals and attacked their homes.


A majority of Muslims in Kattankudy are said to be against these youth but are frightened because they are allegedly back by an armed group that openly operates in the town. The armed group is said to be led by an ex-policeman and residents complain that the local police do not take action to apprehend the armed group


Many rich Muslim businessmen and farmers on the east coast are followers of Rauff Moulavi and 'Payilvaan', with Sufi leanings. Rauff Moulavi's critics say that his teachings have borrowed from Hinduism and is the work of Muslims of Tamil Nadu origin, settled in Kattankudy.


The Deputy Director General of Police for Batticaloa- Amparai districts, Lasantha de Silva, arranged a conference to control the clashes and defuse the tension.


Representatives of the Ulama Council and the Islamic "Sufi" sect, involved in the conflict, A. Majeed, the District Coordinator for SLFP, SSP M. Kirigal, ASP A. Jamaldeen, the Chairman of Kattankudy Urban Council, members of the Council and journalists participated in the conference held for two hours.


The conference ended without reaching any compromise.


Sympathizers of the Kattankudy Jammiyathul Ulama Council and Federation for Kattankudy Mosques and other Organizations placed 10 demands to the sect led by Rauf Moulavi.


The demands included respecting the rules and regulations of Kattankudy Jammiyathul Ulama Council, stopping the radio broadcast and publishing the newspaper run by them and giving compensation to the houses damaged.


Meanwhile, many youths were seen gathered in the Kattankudy Grand Jumma Mosque and Bathriya Jumma Mosque, which are the centre of focus to both factions. In Kattankudy Grand Jumma Mosque only, more than thousand youths gathered and a large number of Policemen patrolled the area in Armed Personnel Carriers.


A similar incidence of violence occurred between these factions in 2004 and received wide media coverage. There was a settlement between Jammiyathul Ulama and Rauf Moulavi negoatiated at that time, under the patronage of former Batticaloa District parliamentarian Mr. M. L. A. M. Hizbullah, but the details of that are not known.

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