By Ameer Ali –
Dr. Ameer Ali
The rapid erosion of that historic image of Sri Lanka, as peaceful, beautiful, resourceful and tolerant multiethnic and multicultural island may said to have reached its nadir when thugs in saffron robes are allowed to roam around the country as Buddhist priests slapping priests from other faiths and beating and locking up government officers, while law enforcers, perhaps afraid of reprimand from the Sangha and or the President, were they to arrest such thugs, remain just onlookers. The most shocking incident of this lawlessness and thuggery by a thuggish priest comes from Batticaloa, where the foul mouthed Ampitiye Sumanarathana Thera of the town’s Mangalarama Vihara was caught in camera this year in January slapping a Christian priest in public. The same thuggish priest, a few days ago, was reported to have beaten and locked up in a shed three officers, two Tamils and a Sinhalese, from the Government Archaeological Department for allegedly bulldozing and levelling a ground earmarked for archaeological excavation. Even before him there was that notorious Rev. Galagoda Atte Gnanasara who, during the Yahapalana government, ignored a court order and went on to desecrate a Hindu temple in Mullaitivu by cremating in its precinct the body of a dead monk. Are these monks tolerated by Sangha hierocracy?
The first incident involving Sumanarathana took place just over a month after Gotabaya Rajapaksa (GR) became President. GR’s victory was indeed the product of a vitriolic political campaign filled with ethno-religious emotions led by an army of Buddhist hardliners among whom were demagogues like Sumanarathana and his ilk.