Valikamam Pradeshiya Sabha chairman, Thiyagarajah Nirosh, was blocked from commemorating Ponnuthurai Sivakumaran, the first Tamil to die in the armed struggle for liberation.
Nirosh was lighting a flame in memory of Sivakumaran before being disrupted by Sri Lankan police who claimed that due to a travel ban in the area, they were not allowed to pay their respects. The police stated that only 'essential' services were allowed to take place.
On June 5, 1974, Sivakumaran was surrounded by Sri Lanka's security forces. To evade torture and to negate the risk of revealing information that jeopardised the gorwing Tamil armed resistance movement, Sivakumaran committed suicide using a capsule of cyanide.
Following the disruption, Nirosh proceeded to commemorate Sivakumaran privately. Valikamam Pradeshiya Sabha have decided to hold a public commemoration event to remember Sivakumaran once the travel ban has been lifted.
While the state claims that commemoration events cannot take place under the island's coronavirus guidelines, Sri Lanka's clampdown on public memorialisation of Tamils who have lost their lives in the struggle for liberation preceded the global pandemic.