‘Let a man guard himself against irritability in speech; Let him be controlled in speech. Abandoning verbal misconduct, let him practice good conduct in speech ‘– Dhammapada
The conduct of Ampitiye Sumanarathana Thera of the Batticaloa’s Mangalaramaya over a land issue in the Pattipalai area has stuck a blow to the efforts taken towards building peace and reconciliation in the country.
By his unruly behaviour towards the Pattipalai area Grama Niladhari S. Jeevithan, Ampitiye Sumanarathana Thera had brought traffic on the Ampara – Kandy main road to a halt and had come out with racist comments and foul language.
Even the Police officials who were at the scene to control the situation remained helpless and pleaded with the monk to remain calm.
However, the monk continued to shout at the Grama Niladhari who is a Government servant, calling him a ‘Tamil Tiger’.
The Pattipalai Grama Niladhari was at the scene to prevent an attempt by a group of people led by Sumanarathana Thera to encroach on a land allocated for cattle grazing.
The Grama Niladhari behaved politely and explained to the monk that his attempt to encroach on the cattle grazing land was illegal. The monk apart from using foul language had even threatened the Grama Niladhari with death.
As far as the demography of the Eastern Province is concerned, all three communities live in unity there highlighting their dedication to peace and reconciliation.
During the civil strife, almost all communities were affected immensely in the Eastern Province.
However, the formation of the present Eastern Provincial Council has been carried out in a manner where a Muslim is the Chief Minister and prominent slots being given to members of other communities with the guidance of the Tamil National Alliance leader and Leader of the Opposition R. Sampanthan.
It is important to note that the North and East Provinces still remain volatile to a great extent; the people in the two provinces played a very significant role in bringing the present government to power.
An Eastern Province politician addressing a public meeting, recently even recalled a speech made by President Maithripala Sirisena during his Presidential campaign saying that if it was not for the voters in the North and the East he would have been buried 6 feet below ground, soon after the election.
Peace loving citizens
As several humanitarian issues still remain challenging, with leaders of all three communities striving hard to focus on stabilizing peace and reconciliation in the North and the East, the unruly behaviour of Ampitiye Sumanarathana Thera has sent shock waves throughout the North and the East as well as among peace loving citizens in the country.
The late Chief Incumbent of the Kotte Naga Viharaya the Most Venerable Maduluwawe Sobhitha Thera played a key role in ousting the previous regime and paving the way for the present government.
The scholarly monk was exemplary in bringing together all three communities and political forces towards creating good governance in the country.
The late Ven. Maduluwawe Sobhitha Thera created the National Movement for Social Justice (NMSJ) and campaigned extensively to create good governance in the country.
During the political struggle to establish the present government in January last year, people of all races rallied round Ven. Maduluwawe Sobhitha Thera to ensure that his efforts succeeded.
However, Ampitiye Sumanarathana’s arrogance in dealing with the Pattipalai Grama Niladhari could be considered a mudslinging action to the sincere efforts spearheaded by late Ven. Maduluwawe Sobhitha Thera in creating peace and harmony in the country.
The monk who is now in the limelight for his ‘mockery’ in the region, had even insulted President Maithripala Sirisena by destroying the plaque bearing the name of the President with a hammer in anger against the President not visiting his temple when he attended a function in Batticalao two months ago.
A few weeks after destroying the plaque, the monk had invited former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and got him to unveil a new plaque bearing the name of the former President.
The monk’s unbecoming behaviour, at a time when Sri Lankan representatives have gathered in Geneva to face challenges posed over humanitarian issues, particularly on alleged torture and detention of Tamil political prisoners, should be rightly condemned. The controversial monk has even insulted a Police team which had gone to carry out an inquiry on him recently. The monk had insulted the Police team in abusive language and went to the extent of chasing after a woman officer in the Police team with the intention of assaulting her.
The Eastern Province Chief Minister Nazeer Ahamed has urged the government to arrest the controversial monk and take legal action against him for his racist comments and for threatening a government servant.
Tamil National Alliance Parliamentarians and Provincial Councillors in the Eastern Province staged a mass protest a few days ago in Batticaloa against the violent attitude of the Thera.
The Batticaloa District’s 350 Grama Niladharis from the 14 Divisional Secretariat Divisions staged a protest against the monk by wearing black bands.
In the meantime Police action had been taken on Abdul Razik, Secretary of the Thowheed Jamath organization in Colombo for inciting religious hatred earlier this month. The Islamic activist has been remanded on Wednesday till 29 November. In this backdrop the pertinent question is what action would be taken against Ampitiye Sumanarathana Thera for inciting communal hatred in the presence of law enforcement officials.