An incident in Kurunegala last night showed how the notorious Bodu Bala Sena’s (BBS) General Secretary Galagoda Atte Gnanasara was above the law, amidst claims by the hardcore Buddhist group that their supporters thwarted attempts by the police to arrest Gnanasara, who has been known for inciting racial hatred between Buddhists and Muslims in Sri Lanka.
With just a week to go for Muslims to observe their holy month of Ramadan, the minority community in Sri Lanka was once again penalized on Saturday night with the BBS accused of instigating groups to launch an attack across Muslim owned shops as well as at a mosque in Kurunegala.
The government remained tight lipped on the incident, while even the country’s mainstream media chose to ignore the incident, which was not the first incident for May. However US Ambassador Sri Lanka Atul Keshap in a tweet today morning said that “any attack on a house of worship is reprehensible; this is the third in a week.” He also called on the authorities to arrest and try the perpetrators as soon as possible.
Attempts by the Colombo Telegraph to contact Minister of Law and Order Sagala Ratnayaka proved futile, while police spokesman DIG Prishantha Jayakody said he was unable to speak as he too was at a meeting.
In a live Facebook video, a monk representing the BBS said that over 200 police officers attempted to arrest Gnanasara near a Muslim village in the Kurunegala district. The monk claimed that all the 200 police officers including the senior officials were drunk when they tried to ‘apprehend’ Gnanasara, but their attempts to arrest him was thwarted by supporters of the BBS. The BBS representative also said that his group will be compelled to resort to violence if the government and police continued to ignore their complaints made against Muslims including the Muslim Ministers. “We are warning this gay government not to lay a hand on Gnanasara, if they do it, then it will be their biggest mistake,” the monk said via a live Facebook video.
The BBS representative also said that they had with them a large number of youth from Kurunegala, and more were joining their cause from across the country. “We are ready to sort out our issues through dialogue. There can be no reconciliation in the country if the problems of the Buddhist community are not solved,” the representative said. He however did not mention as to why the police attempted to apprehend Gnanasara but indicated that the police had ordered the BBS and Gnanasara to come to the Police headquarters and give a statement on some matter.
Pictures shared widely on social media today morning showed a damaged mosque in the district as well as shops in Kurunegala which came under attack by unidentified groups. In another incident, a Muslim owned shop in Elpitiya was also set on fire by a masked man, according to CCTV footage.
Incidentally all these events come just weeks away from the third anniversary of the Aluthgama riots, which was also launched by the BBS in June 2014 against the Muslims.