As anti-Sri Lankan protests raged in several parts of Tamil Nadu, a Buddhist priest from the island, currently pursuing archaeological studies in Delhi University, was roughed up by some activists of pro-Tamil outfits at the famous Big Temple in Thanjavur on Saturday, police said.
The priest was rescued by the police, who rushed to the spot on getting information, they said adding 12 persons had been arrested in connection with the incident.
The Sri Lankan has come to Thanjavur as part of a 19-member delegation of students for archaeological research at the more than 1,000-year old Brahadeeswarar temple, also known as Big Temple.
As the students were going around the temple, a group of activists belonging to various outfits including the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and Naam Tamizhar Katchi singled out the Sri Lankan, clad in saffron robes, and beat him up, police said.
They shouted slogans demanding that the priest leave Tamil Nadu. The Lankan national was escorted safely to the local archaeological office from where the students left in a van to Tiruchirappalli enroute Chennai.
However, when the van was nearing Tiruchirapalli, some unidentified persons pelted stones and chappals on it near Ariyamangalam.
The van suffered some damage but the occupants escaped unhurt, police said adding later they escorted the students to the airport. The Sri Lankan national left for Chennai by a flight, police added.
The incident comes amid mounting anti-Sri Lankan protests in the state in the past few weeks with pro-Tamil activists targetting Lankan pilgrims and establishments including an airline over the Lankan Tamils issue.