Police Sunday declared unofficial curfew in Kattankudy, a large Muslim town 5 kilometres south of Batticaloa, after mobs demolished a mosque and several houses and buildings belonging to an Islamic sect.
Special Task Force (STF) commandos were called in after Police failed to control crowds of orthodox Muslims armed with clubs and machetes stormed the main mosque and a computer centre of the influential Islamic sect led by the charismatic cleric known as ‘Payilvaan’.
Police said crowds were called up by muezzins from orthodox mosques in the thickly populated town.
On Sunday afternoon STF and Police were still trying to control crowds attacking the homes families that follow Payilvaan’s teachings, sources in Kattankudy said.
Payilvaan’s followers charged that a group of young preachers trained in Saudi Arabia were behind the attack. “They are trying to force everyone to follow Wahabism. They are paid to do this by the Saudis,” one of them alleged.
Payilvaan, an Islamic scholar, has written extensively against Wahabi orthodoxy. His writings and preachings show his Sufi leanings.
Many rich Muslim businessmen and farmers on the eastcoast are his followers.