by Lal Gunasekera
National Executive Council member Azath Salley has urged President Maithripala Sirisena’s to rein in the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) or face the consequences.
Salley, who is also the leader of the National Unity Alliance (NUA) as well as UNP member of the Central Provincial Council, has requested the President to appoint a Presidential Commission to probe the BBS. Salley told The Island that the government couldn’t ignore the project undertaken by the BBS, particularly its General Secretary Ven. Galagodaathte Gnanasara Thera.
Salley was responding to the BBS threat to remove Kuragala mosque in the Eastern province ‘brick by brick’ within a month unless the Antiquities Ordinance was enforced by the government.
Salley said that former President Mahinda Rajapaksa hadn’t kept his promise to inquire into BBS led attacks on Muslims in Aluthgama and Beruwela in June last year.
Pointing out that Ven. Gnanasara Thera had ridiculed former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga and Health Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne, Salley said that law enforcement authorities were reluctant to move against the BBS chief. Although the Police Spokesman SSP Ajith Rohana was on record as having said that any person making hate speeches and causing religious disharmony would be taken into custody, nothing had been done so far as far as the BBS was concerned.
Salley said that an overwhelming majority of Muslims had voted for Maithripala Sirisena because they were disgusted with the way the former President had allowed extremists to harass the Muslim community. Now that the Rajapaksa regime had been defeated, the Muslim community expected the new government to ensure the extremists to be kept on a tight leash.
Having accused the BBS and Ven. Gnanasara Thera of being the recipient of foreign funding, Salley accused former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa and former government of promoting and protecting the BBS.