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Sri Lankan police complain about ‘Eelam’ banners as Shivajilingam granted bail

Former Northern Provincial Council member Shivajilingam has been released on bail by the Jaffna Magistrate Court after he was arrested by the police for paying tribute to thiyaga theepam Lt Col Thileepan defying a ban imposed by Sri Lankan authorities on his commemoration.

The court had imposed a ban on Thileepan’s commemoration on the grounds that he belonged to LTTE, an organisation proscribed in Sri Lanka. Shivajilingam defied the ban to pay his respects to the Tamil martyr at his memorial site in Koppay.

During the hearing, the police accused Shivajilingam of contempt of court for defying its ban on remembering a person of a forbidden organisation and of attempting to ‘divide’ the country by using the word ‘Eelam’ on the banners. They requested the court not to grant bail to Shivajilingam and others and instead allow them to pursue a 14-day interrogation of the accused.

N. Sirikantha, one of Shivajilingam’s attorneys, contended that Eelam is not a word that implies the division of the country and that it refers only to the Tamil-speaking parts of the island. Tamil Eelam Liberation Organisation (TELO) is an established political party which has been in existence for over 30 years, she said, and has also produced several Members of Parliament. She also mentioned that a minister in the current administration belongs to the Eelam People’s Democratic Party (EPDP). 

The court, having listened to both sides, admonished Shivajilingam, imposed a 2 lakh rupees fine on him and granted him bail. The court has postponed the next hearing to September 26.

The arrest of the Tamil politician came as the Sri Lankan security forces cracked down on events that were being held to commemorate Thileepan across the Tamil homeland.

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