News

Gnanasara Thera to not be summoned to give statement

  • Statement on repeat of Easter-like attack to be discussed
  • Cops need not question all who make certain statements: Public Security Ministry
  • Says claim will be verified and acted on, if actual threat exists

BY Buddhika Samaraweera

The Police will not be recording a statement from Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) General Secretary Ven. Galagodaaththe Gnanasara Thera regarding his recent statement that a terror attack such as the Easter Sunday attacks of 21 April 2019 could take place at any time in the future, The Morning learnt.

“The intelligence agencies will definitely speak to Ven. Gnanasara Thera, but it should not be all about calling into police stations and recording statements. The intelligence units under the Police and the Defence Ministry will certainly speak to the Ven. Thera and get the information. Then, if there is a threat of an attack, we will take necessary steps,” Public Security Ministry Secretary Maj. Gen. (Retd.) Jagath Alwis told The Morning yesterday (30 September).

Further claiming that the monk has merely stated that there may be individuals who are motivated to carry out an attack at some point, Alwis said that the Police should not record statements from all those who make certain statements.

“The monk mentioned about a threat that there can be motivated individuals who could launch an attack, but the Police does not have to record statements from each and every one regarding what they say.”

However, Alwis added that Gnanasara Thera’s statement would be discussed at future weekly intelligence meetings attended by the Police and intelligence agencies under the Defence Ministry, and that steps would be taken to verify the information contained in his statement, thereby taking necessary steps if there is such a threat of an attack.
During a recent television programme, the monk had claimed that he had information and evidence that a terrorist attack, such as the Easter Sunday bombings, could take place at any time. He had also stated that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had been informed of the information such as the groups that could be involved in the attack and the whereabouts of such groups.

The Catholic Church has recently charged that the Government and the Inspector General of Police (IGP) have not yet taken steps to investigate the said statement and that they were acting as if nothing had happened. National Catholic Social Communication Centre Director and Kurana St. Anne’s Church Parish Priest Rev. Fr. Cyril Gamini Fernando recently said that the monk’s statement is something which affects national security and requested the IGP to investigate the matter and fulfil his responsibilities.

“Gnanasara Thera stated that there is a risk of an attack. He said that he knew all the details such as who would launch the attack and where the necessary weapons were hidden. Therefore, we requested the IGP and the Government to conduct an investigation into this matter. Archbishop of Colombo His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith has informed the IGP in writing in this regard, but the IGP has not yet responded nor has he taken any steps to investigate it,” Rev. Fernando added.

Meanwhile, commenting on the incident where a team of officers from the Welisara Naval Base Camp had visited and informed several Catholic churches on 28 September that there was a possibility of an attack on those churches on the same day, Alwis said that the said information should not be taken seriously, and added that if there is an imminent threat, the security agencies will keep the Catholic church updated in that regard.

Speaking to the media on 29 September, Rev. Fernando said that several Catholic churches in the Weligampitiya, Wattala, Hunupitiya, and Ragama areas in the Western Province have been informed by these Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) officers of a possible attack within the course of 28 September.

However, he claimed that there were several issues with the incident since it was later announced that the said information had been given by mistake. “The information was that someone who is dressed like a Catholic priest would carry out the attack. However, we have some questions, because when we looked into this matter subsequently, both the Navy and the Defence Ministry claimed that this was a mistake while also stating that this was part of a security plan,” Rev. Fernando noted.

The Defence Ministry has however stated that news circulating on social media platforms and electronic media sources on a likely terror attack on Sri Lankan churches was based on information which had not been analysed or confirmed by the respective authorities. Further, Defence Secretary Gen. (Retd.) Kamal Gunaratne had added that there is no reason to panic over the incident.

Accordingly, commenting on the incident, Alwis said: “This information should not be taken very seriously, and if there are imminent threats, we will definitely inform. This situation arose as someone from the SLN got the message wrong and then they went to the churches and informed them. However, they have already gone back to those churches and corrected it,” he explained.

Gnanasara Thera to not be summoned to give statement