The Ministry of Buddha Sasana and Religious Affairs authorised the functioning of the ‘new’ mosque premises that was attacked last night in a letter dated as recently as 8 August 2013, the Colombo Telegraph learns.
Despite attempts by violent mobs led by Buddhist monks who attacked the prayer centre during sunset prayers last evening to claim the three storey structure on Swarna Chaithya Road in Grandpass was an unauthorised building, a letter from the Ministry claims that it had permitted the functioning of the mosque at its new premises at NO 158 after the old Molawatte mosque on No 166 of the same road had been acquired by order of the UDA.
The letter signed by the Secretary to the Ministry of Buddha Sasana and Religious Affairs M.K. Dissanayake explicitly says that following the UDA takeover, the mosque situated at 166 Swarna Chaithya Road is permitted to continue its functions at the new premises at No. 158 of the same road.
Meanwhile following a meeting held at the Ministry this afternoon that got repeatedly heated, the Government has decided to revoke the UDA order and return the old Molawatte mosque located at 166 Swarna Chaithya Road back to Muslim devotees. It was decided at the meeting that the Bo Tree on the premises would be removed and the mosque be granted permission to expand.
In attendance at the meeting were Muslim Ministers A.H.M. Fowzie, Rishard Bathurdeen and Deputy Minister Faizer Mustapha, while Justice Minister and SLMC Leader Rauff Hakeem also dropped in. The Sri Lanka Muslim Council and members of the clergy and residents from Grandpass also attended the meeting. JHU Members Minister Ranawaka and Udaya Gammanpila and Minister Dinesh Gunawardane were also present at the meeting. The Inspector General of Police N.K. Illangakoon and Senior DIG Western Province Anura Senanayake also attended.
Grandpass is reportedly calm after angry mobs on both sides decided to accept the compromise. Clashes re-erupted a short while ago as police attempted to allow 3 p.m. prayer to go ahead at the attacked mosque. At least 12 people have been injured in the clashes since Saturday.