Special Task Force (STF) and police officers took photographs of devotees and intimidated them with their heavy presence at the pongal event held at the old Semmalai Neeraviyadi Pillaiyar temple in Mullaitivu, yesterday.
The temple, which is currently also controversially occupied by Buddhist monks and a Buddhist vihara, was patrolled by hundreds of police officers and STF officials who were stationed inside and around the temple premises during the pongal event.
The presence of police and state investigators intimidated devotees as they took photographs of everyone who came to the temple, including the priest, the temple administration and all devotees.
This event was also the first major event to be held at the Neeraviyadi Pillaiyar temple since the new government came into power. Special traditional rituals and tributes were performed and the devotees were given blessings. Devotees were able to cook pongal in the pots as part of a ritualistic worship.
The event was held in compliance with health regulations, with banners on display encouraging social distancing measures, The temple administration ensured to get permission to allow those who have been subject to lockdown measures due to COVID-19 to attend.
Devotees from nearby villages, former Northern Provincial Council, Thurairajah Raviharan and Pradeshiya Sabha member Logeshwaran, were among those in attendance.
The military surveillance and harassment has been rife in the North-East, with Sri Lankan military presence heavily seen in places of worship. Last month, Sri Lankan troops caused shock and outrage when Sri Lankan soldiers walked around Nainativu Nagapooshani Amman Temple grounds with their boots on.