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‘They threatened to shoot me in the head for destroying Buddhist culture’

A former cadre who participated in a protest against an illegal attempt to install a Buddha statue on a native Tamil temple site, was visited by unknown gunmen who threated to shoot him dead if he continued to take part in such demonstrations.

Velupillai Madhavameyar, a social activist and former cadre, said the incident had taken place on June 15, just days after dozens of Tamils demonstrated against the Sri Lankan military-aided attempt in the Kurunthurmalai area of Mullaitivu.

Sinhala Buddhist monks and the Sri Lankan army had planned a Buddhist dedication ceremony to consecrate a Buddha statue at the site of a native Tamil temple, despite an order by Mullaitivu Magistrate's Court decreeing that no changes could be made to the site.

“At 1.30 am on the 15th, two men came to my house with pistols and threatened to shoot me in the head, for trying to destroy their Buddhist culture,” said Madhavameyar, as he lodged a complaint at the Puthukkudiyiruppu police station this week.

He added that it is thought the gunmen were attached to the 682 Brigade of the Sri Lankan army, stationed in Mullaitivu.

Three Tamil National People's Front (TNPF) members were also arrested at the protest before eventually being released.

The Kurunthurmalai area hosts an Athi Aiyanar temple, and has been subjected to intense landgrab efforts by Sinhala Buddhist monks over recent years.

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