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Trinco temple board members remanded for "damaging archaeological site"

Three senior board members of a disputed Tamil temple in Trincomalee who were arrested and produced in court on charges of “damaging an archaeological site” have been remanded until Thursday.

S. Jegatheeswaran, T. Nijanthan and E. Chandramohan - chair, secretary and treasurer, respectively, of the board of the Kuntrathur Mathalamalai Murugan temple in Soodaikuda were arrested on Monday when they answered a summons by Sampur police.

The Muthur magistrates judge ordered their continued remand despite an appeal lodged by the temple board claiming unlawful arrest.

The arrests have deeply disturbed the people of Soodaikuda where tensions have been high since police obtained a court order suspending restoration work on the historic temple, at the request of visiting Buddhist monks who claimed that the temple was built over an ancient Buddhist site.

"The Sri Lankan archaeology department is a notorious front for Sinhalisation," said a Trincomalee-based journalist. "Of course the people of Soodaikuda who have only recently resettled are terrified they will lose their village to one of their projects."