Tensions among three ethnicities increased rapidly by late 2016 due to extremist groups’

By Rathindra Kuruwita

Tensions among the Muslim, Sinhala and Tamil communities in the East were growing rapidly by late 2016 due to activities of extremist groups, the State Intelligence Service had warned, an SIS officer stationed in the East, on Wednesday, told the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) investigating the Easter Sunday attacks.

The witness, whose name will not be divulged due to a request made by the PCoI, said that the most dangerous of those groups was the National Thowheed Jamaat (NTJ.) “I said this at a combined intelligence agencies meeting. I also sent a report on this to my superior on 28 December 2016,” he said. However Sri Lanka Thowheed Jamaat (SLTJ) too was a major cause of tensions among communities by 2016, he said.

Apart from the Muslim extremist groups, Shiv Sena, a Hindu extremist group from Jaffna, was spreading to the East, the SIS officer had warned in his report.

“There were also some Sinhala extremist groups like Sinhala Ravaya, Mahason Balakaya and Sinhale Jathika Balamuluwa operating in the East. I had warned that, if things continued at that rate there would be clashes soon,” he said.

As predicted, there had been clashes and ethnic tensions since 2017 in several parts of the East, the witness said.

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