Army Spokesman Brigadier Ravi Herath said all soldiers have been evacuated from the premises of the Mihintale Rajamaha Vihara.
He said this decision was in response to a media statement by the temple’s head, who expressed suspicion about the behavior of two soldiers within the temple premises.
Brigadier Herath elaborated that the Army had been deployed to ensure the safety of foreign tourists visiting the premises and to provide security for military personnel involved in construction activities of the sacred site.
However, due to the strained relations between the chief incumbent and the military personnel, the evacuation of all troops from Mihintale Rajamaha Vihara premises was necessary for their safety.
The Chief Incumbent in a recent statement, raised concerns about military personnel in civvies at the sacred site and they could pose a threat.
When Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa made a statement on the matter, State Minister of Defence Premitha Bandara Tennakoon said the military personnel stationed at the sacred site would be withdrawn if the chief incumbent perceives their presence as a threat to his life.
Tennakoon said there was a total of 225 security personnel deployed at the site, representing, Sri Lanka Army, Sri Lanka Navy and Civil Security Department.
Addressing the issue, the state minister clarified, “The two individuals in civilian clothing are military personnel. They were assigned to ensure the security of the temple and the tourists after assessing the security situation. If their presence is deemed threatening, we have decided to withdraw all military personnel from the temple premises.”
Meanwhile, the Police said no action has been taken to withdraw the police personnel assigned to the Mihintale Rajamaha Vihara and they will continue duties at the sacred site.