Temple play provokes SLA drama

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 01 September 1999, 07:26 GMT]
The trustee board members of a Tamil temple and the owner of a village sound service were grilled by the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) in Batticaloa yesterday over a play critical of the Sri Lankan government that was staged on Sunday night at the shrine's annual festival.

Residents of Murukkanthivu, a hamlet across the lagoon about 3 kilometres south west of Valaichenai, said that the activities of the SLA were mocked and the Sri Lankan President was portrayed as a male in some scenes of the play staged by the village youth on the final day of the annual festival of the local Murugan temple.

Soldiers at the Kinnaiyadi SLA camp who know Tamil had listened to the play from their positions by the lagoon during the night. The Kinnaiyadi camp is situated by the shore, less than a kilometre across the lagoon from Murukkanthivu.

They had immediately reported the play to their commanding officer who had summoned members of the Murukkanthivu temple's trustee board and the widow who had rented out the sound system for the play first thing on Monday morning.

These persons were interrogated by the commanding officer of the Kinnaiyadi camp about the drama.

Details of the playwright, the actors etc., were obtained from them by the SLA officer. Murukkanthivu is on the edge of the hinterland west of the lagoon, which is dominated by the Liberation Tigers.

The officer had hence questioned them about the possible involvement of the Tigers in production of the play. The sound system was confiscated by the SLA.

The widow, however, had obtained the permission of the army at Kinnaiyadi to take it across the lagoon for the Murukkanthivu temple festival.

Renting out the sound system is the sole means by which the widow looks after her family said residents.

The commanding officer of the Kinnaiyadi SLA camp had informed his brigade at the Valaichenai paper mill about the play. Officers from the 23-2 Brigade there had come down to interrogate the trustee board members and the widow.

Everyone was released in the afternoon yesterday on condition that they send all those who were involved in the production and staging of the play for questioning to the Kinnaiyadi SLA camp.

The army took away the national identity cards of the temple trustee board members and the widow on condition that they (I.Ds) would be returned to them only after all the persons connected with the Murukkanthivu drama are brought by them to the Kinnaiyadi camp.

Tamils cannot move about in the army-controlled parts of the north and east of Sri Lanka without their national identity cards.

No one involved in the drama has so far reported to the SLA at Kinnaiyadi.

"We won't be able to work or tend to our fields but will have to precariously idle at home in this situation" lamented a member of the Murukkanthivu temple trustee board member.

People in the army controlled areas immediately south of Valaichenai who have fields and cattle in the hinterland have to cross the lagoon from the army's point at Kinnaiyady. The army checks them before they take the canoe (thoni) to Murukkanthivu and from there to trek to their respective destinations in the western hinterland.

 

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