Colombo, Sep 27 Sri Lankan police have arrested three men who were among a group who took semi-nude photos of themselves at ancient Pidurangala Rock, considered sacred by the Buddhists.
The young Sri Lankan men posted the images of themselves on their Facebook, the BBC reported. It prompted angry reaction from people who considered them a religious insult. Similar photos were also posted on Instagram by foreigners, who were not arrested.
The viral photos taken by foreign travellers were posted on the Cheeky Exploits Instagram page, an account that encourages people to take pictures at famous locations around the world.
The arrests came after a complaint by a Buddhist monk who claimed the photos, taken within the sight of the Sigiriya rock fortress, a Unesco World Heritage site, were a religious insult, the BBC report said.
Pidurangala is a massive rock in Matale district in Sri Lanka on which Pidurangala Vihara temple was constructed. It is located a few kilometres north of the historical fort Sigiriya.
Sri Lanka's Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has also ordered an investigation into the incident, Sri Lanka's Daily Mirror newspaper reported.
The reaction to the arrest have been mixed. "When our children are being raped and women being abused, Sri Lankan police do nothing. They only seem to act on nonsensical non-issues like this," a Facebook user said.
Others questioned why police only took action against locals, not foreigners. "So law enforcement should only be limited to brown bums? Sri Lanka Police should send several teams around the world to identify the rest," wrote another Facebook user.
This is not the first time nude pictures near sacred sites have drawn condemnation from local communities.
In June 2015, a group of Western tourists climbing Mount Kinabalu in Malaysia caused massive outrage and a subsequent deadly earthquake was blamed on their disrespect towards the sacred mountain, the BBC said.
It was only after court proceedings, a few days in prison and a financial penalty that the tourists were allowed to leave Malaysia.
In 2017 a Playboy model took part in a nude shoot on New Zealand's Mount Taranaki, angering Maoris who consider the mountain to be the burial ground of their ancestor.