The arrival of Buddhist monk Galagoda Atte Gnanasara of Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) and Dan Priyasath who calls himself ‘Savior of the Sinhalese’ to pay last respects to a Sinhala man who succumbed to injuries sustained when beaten up by a group of Muslims has raised fears of imminent communal clashes in Teldeniya and other places in the Kandy District.
Sudarshana Gunawardena, Director General, Department of Government Information, told Colombo Telegraph that a curfew was imposed in the Kandy District and the Police put on alert to ensure that the enforcement of the law proceeds without hindrance and the situation does not spiral into an inter-communal conflagration.
“The Government appeals to all parties and especially the general public to act with responsibility and remain calm. The suspects have been arrested and the law will take its course,” Gunawardena said.
It is reported that a Hartal was declared in Digana, Teldeniya, Udispattuwa and Medamahanuwara protesting the attack. The Police and STF were deployed to bring the situation under control after twp shops in Moragahamulla were set on fire by angry mobs. Twenty-four people suspected of involvement in these acts of violence have been arrested by the Teldeniya police so far.
The victim, M.G. Kumarasinghe (41), a resident of Ambala in Medamahanuwara, had been undergoing treatment for a week at the Kandy Teaching Hospital after the assault and succumbed to his injuries last night.
The altercation had taken place allegedly when a group of men, later identified as Muslims, had been angered due to the victim not allowing them to overtake his vehicle. Another version has the victim accidentally hitting the side mirror of the vehicle in which the assailants were travelling but had not stopped to sort the matter out.
There is no evidence whatsoever that the assault was racially motivated. The assailants, all residents of Ambagahalanda, Digana were arrested by the police while a three-wheeler was also taken into custody.
Gnanasar and Priyasath, both representing extremist groups, are currently on bail over cases where they are accused of inciting communal violence against the Muslim community. Gnanasara Thero and the BBS, in particular, played a leading and violent role in the Aluthgama riots a few years ago.