News

Damage to Buddha statue: Could be extremism, Public Security Ministry

By Dinitha Rathnayake

 

The damage caused to the glass cover of a Buddha statue in the Hingula area in Mawanella this week could be an act of extremism, according to the Ministry of Public Security.

“We do not take this lightly. Investigations which are being carried out into the incident have not ruled out the possibility of this being a disruptive act or an act of extremism. We cannot confirm the cause. However, we are hoping to make some progress,” Secretary to the Ministry of Public Security Maj. Gen. Jagath Alwis told The Morning yesterday (31).

Secretary to the Ministry of Buddhasasana, Cultural, and Religious Affairs Prof. Kapila Gunawardana too told The Morning that this could be a disruptive act.

However, Parliamentarian Manusha Nanayakkara alleged that this incident may have been politically driven. 

“These incidents are not normal and occur due to the personal agendas of politicians who want to create another ethnic war like the one we suffered with for years. This is pure extremism which will intensify closer to an election. We need to find ways to prevent this type of violent extremism in Sri Lanka,” he told The Morning. “Characters like Namal Kumara, the police informant who revealed an alleged plot to kill former President Maithripala Sirisena and National Organiser of the Nawa Sinhale Dan Priyasad are not individuals that emerge out of the blue. They are created through political influence.”

Similar incidents happened in 2018 and 2019 where several Buddha statues were attacked in Mawanella. Investigations were carried out to determine if the attacks were an organiaed act of violence to create religious tensions among the Sinhalese and Muslim communities in the area or an isolated incident. 

Following these investigations, 29 suspects were arrested in connection with causing damage to Buddha statues in the Mawanella town in 2019 in an attempt which officials now believe was aimed at inflaming tensions and provoking communal riots.