Sri Lanka Police use 'quarantine law' to block daily rituals in Hindu Kovil

Sri Lanka Police shut a Hindu temple and blocked its' daily rituals and arrested the priests in the war-affected Mullaitivu district on charges of violating Covid-19 restrictions.

Two priests and a trustee of the newly constructed Kovil dedicated to Lord Siva, were taken to the Puthukudiyiruppu (PTK) police station and detained for four hours before being released.

The Sivan Kovil at Moongilaru was inaugurated on 11th March on the occasion of Sivarathri - a holy day for Hindus.

Devaraja Sarma, a priest of the temple told local journalists the temple was built as per the wishes of the local as no Sivan Kovil was present there.

“Daily rituals were being conducted without any public attendance due to Covid-19 restrictions. But the police came and took the two priests and a trustee of the temple to PTK police station and detained us for four hours before being sent back. As per religious guidelines the daily rituals have to continue without any break”

Halting the continuation of rituals in a Hindu temple, in particular, a Sivan kovil is considered a dreadful sin in the Hindu tradition.

PM's office

The early tweet by JDS evoked a response from the Prime Minister’s office. His coordinating secretary G. Cassilingham tweeted the police action was due to the violation of covid restrictions.

“After seeing this tweet, I inquired from the PTK Police and was informed that Moongilaru is an area presently under lockdown due to a high number of Covid patients. The Priest had conducted the poosai with 5 others which is against quarantine law presently.”

His tweet further said, “All 6 were questioned & released. During a time when authorities are attempting to stop the Covid-19 spread quarantine law should be respected by all, irrespective of their religious beliefs”.

The PM's office did not make it clear what the 'quarantine law' on religious events were.

However, a prompt comeback from Raza Noor tweeting as @nmmraza highlighted the government having a contradictory approach when it comes to government politicians and Buddhist monks.

“But 7 day pirith in Kurunegala police station culminating in b'day cake for mayor is A ok!? No monks arrested?

The birthday party referred in the tweet was held by ruling party politician Kurunegala Mayor Thushara Sanjeewa Witharana, with police attending.

Buddhist rituals

Devaraja Sarma had earlier appealed to the President and the Prime Minister to intervene in the matter and sort out the issue.

In spite of Covid-19 restrictions the government has allowed daily rituals at temples without public participation.

It’s not clear as yet if the daily rituals have been allowed to resume and the nature of inquiry with the priests and others.

Later in the day, SriLanka police & army stopped Valikamam East Pradeshiya Sabha Chairman Thiagaraja Nirosh from paying tribute to Ponnuthurai Sivakumaran, on his 47th death anniversary, in front of his statue in Urumpirai, Jaffna.

Pon. Sivakumaran (1950 - 1974) was the first Tamil militant to die in the armed stuggle.

PS Chairman was eventually forced to pay homage at a private land.



Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka

  • JDS is the Sri Lankan partner organization of international media rights group, Reporters Without Borders (RSF). The launching of this website was made possible by the EU’s European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), of which Reporters Without Borders is a beneficiary.