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Two Tamils detained following Sri Lankan archaeology department complaint

Two administrators of a historic Tamil temple in a Vavuniya village were arrested on Friday and have been detained at Vavuniya prison following a complaint lodged at the Omanthai Police Station by the Department of Archaeology, claiming they had dug up underground bricks while cleaning the temple.

Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MP Sivasakthy Ananthan slammed the arrest on Saturday following a visit to the prisoners Subramaniam and Akilan, two administrators of the Kaatu Vinayagar temple in the village of Maligai.

“The village is one of the oldest in the Vavuniya District and the temple too is centuries old,” Ananthan said. The MP also detailed how the temple was left unmaintained during the war and that although government assistance was sought following the end of the armed conflict, it never materialised, so the villagers have been renovating the temple and its premises through their own agricultural earnings.

“For the last four and a half years, during the ‘good governance’ of the present government, the Department of Archaeology continues to take over several historically important and ancient Hindu temples of the Tamils, destroy them and commit violations.”

Ananthan criticised the Sri Lankan archaeology department, whose upper levels were composed entirely  of Sinhalese people.

“It must be condemned that the Department of Archaeology had these innocent people, who went to clean their temple, arrested,” he said. “These people did not engage in any criminal activities. They did not even know that the temple is under the administration of the Department of Archaeology. The Department of Archaeology did not put any sign board there.”

“Through these activities, the Department of Archaeology continues to harass all Tamil people and Hindus.”