Chunnakam police assaulted Tamil youths on Maaveerar Naal and harassed locals coming to their defence, according to a complaint filed at the Sri Lankan Human Rights Commission.
A local trader from Punnalaikattuvan, in Valikamam South, said he was verbally abused, assualted and had false drug charges laid on him by police when he attempted to intervene while the police were beating Tamil youths outside shops in the area.
The trader, who had gone to the scene on his motorcycle, fled on foot upon being attacked and returned later to recover his motorcycle. However police said that 200 grams of cannabis had been found in his vehicle.
The trader filed the complaint with the human rights commission on Thursday.
The incidents caused tension in the area with the region's locals being well acquainted with the Chunnakam police department's history of abuses. Punnalaikattuvan village's name was used in false burglary charges to arrest a Tamil youth who was later murdered in custody in 2011. Locals say the murdered youth, Sriskantharajah Sumanan, was initially detained on charges of organising Maaveerar Naal commemorations.