Sri Lankan army personnel surrounded the offices of the Jaffna-based Uthayan newspaper, its employees said on Sunday.
Over 50 uniform-clad army personnel surrounded the popular Tamil daily’s premises and the situation in the locality was tense for a few hours, said E. Saravanapavan, TNA parliamentarian and Uthayan ’s managing director. “Later, the ground commander asked me for assurance that there won’t be any violent incident,” he told The Hindu .
With the two entrances to the Uthayan ’s offices blocked, some of the employees were denied access to the premises, said its executive editor Devanayagam Premanand.
The newspaper has repeatedly been in news for multiple attacks carried out on its premises, by unidentified groups. Sunday’s incident coincides with the fifth anniversary of the end of the country’s war, being observed by the Sri Lankan government through a ‘Victory Day’ in Mattara in the island’s south. In the north, the army reportedly banned any remembrance or commemoration event for the Tigers in public.
When contacted, Jaffna Security Forces Uday Perera told The Hindu : “There was no road block, just that security has been stepped up in the Northern Province around anniversary day. In any case, after our ground commander spoke to the Uthayan management, our personnel left the spot.” The enhanced security, he said, was to ensure there was no violence in Jaffna which is “very calm and quiet now.”
Meanwhile, President Mahinda Rajapaksa who addressed the nation at the ‘Victory Day’ parade said he would not bow to pressure from foreign critics who are pushing him to investigate claims that tens of thousands of people died in the final stages of the conflict.
“We are not celebrating victory in a war, we are celebrating peace. Irrespective of who opposes this, or who stays away, we will always commemorate this day,” he said.