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Cop, monk among 14 arrested for anti- religious violence

A Police Constable and a Buddhist Monk are among the 14 persons arrested in connection with the recent incidents of violence targeting places of religious worship, business enterprises and houses, Police media spokesman DIG Priyantha Jayakody said yesterday.

“There are 11 Sinhalese, a Tamil and a Muslim among the arrested. There is a Buddhist monk and a police officer among the arrested Sinhalese.” DIG Jayakody also said.

He was speaking at a media brief held at the Department of Government Information in Narahenpita yesterday.

It is revealed that almost all the arrested Sinhalese have close connection with Bodu Bala Sena organization, DIG Jayakody confirmed.

“The CEO of Bodu Bala Sena Dilantha Witanage challenged the police asking how we are to prove that BBS is behind many religious violent acts. Now we have proved it,” DIG Jayakody also said.

The arrested police constable is an officer attached to Keselwatta police, Colombo, DIG Jayakody further said. The said officer has been arrested along with three more, including a Buddhist monk and two civilians, who have been the architects behind the petrol bomb attack aimed at the mosque in Panadura last 17 May 2017.

“A Cab, two swords, a hockey stick and equipments used to make petrol bombs were taken into custody along with the suspects.” DIG Jayakody also said. “The arrested police officer had withdrawn himself from police service for a period of time due to his medical conditions and was absorbed back to the service only recently.” The Police media spokesman said. “The arrested Buddhist monk has close connections to the Bodu Bala Sena organization.” DIG Jayakody said. Asked to comment of statements made by various politicians regarding the anti-religious violences, DIG Jayakody said investigations are already in order. DIG Jayakody also said that certain statements which say that Bodu Bala Sena leader Gnanasara thera is under the protection of certain ministers is merely ‘political talk’.

When asked about the developments to arresting Gnanasara thera, DIG Jayakody said investigations are underway.

He also said, if any complaints are lodged against posts circulating in social media that instigate ethnic-religious disharmony, a special police unit will investigate on them.

“We don’t monitor or do surveillance on social media. If and when we receive a complaint regarding anti-social material spread using social media, we will look into those. Recently we received a complaint on a Facebook post written by a Muslim young man insulting Lord Buddha.

The young man was arrested recently. There was another case regarding distribution of lunch packets containing drugs leading to impotence, in the Narammala area. The police are currently investigating on the matter as well.” DIG Jayakody explained.

Asked if the military will be deployed to prevent the instigators of religious and ethinc violence, DIG Jayakody said, if the need arises, the relevent authorities will take a decision on it.

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Incidents of violence targeting places of religious worship and business enterprises during the months of May and June

* May - Arson committed on four business establishments at Nugegoda,Maharagama (main suspect arrested)

* May - Place: Mosque attacked at Panadura Eluwila

* Petrol Bomb thrown into Mosque in Panadura town

* Two business establishments burnt down

* Four arrested in connection with the above incidents

* May - Kurunegala Mallawapitiya Mosque attacked (Two arrested)

* Weeraketiya - pasting posters bearing slogans that trigger communal disharmony (Three arrested)