A six-member gang (four females and two males) involved in robbing jewellery were arrested in Jaffna last week.
According to OIC Jaffna Rajah Gunasekera following complaints from devotees at the Nagadeepa festival, a police team was deployed at the Nallur festival and gang members were literally caught in the act.
The OIC said the robber team were from the gypsy community and travelled to different areas of the country ostensibly earning a living via snake charming and reading of palms.
One member of the gang hailed from Tamil Nadu while the others were from Mannar and Puttalam.
He said the women in the group mingled with the crowd pretending to be devotees.
“Most of the victims were old females who had attended the Nallur festival. Despite prior information given to devotees to be aware of possible thieves and warnings to avoid wearing jewellery at the festival, older women did not heed the warning,” he said.
He added that the same bunch of robbers had been involved in similar activities at the Kataragama, Madhu, and Nagadeepa festivals.
The OIC said more than 600 police and civil officers were deployed at the sacred grounds near the Nallur temple last week prior to the festival. Handbills were distributed and loudspeakers were used to create awareness among devotees.