The presence of Buddhist monk Galagoda Atte Gnanasara, the General Secretary of the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) at an event in Japan has given more credence to the suspicion that the Government was using the BBS as a catspaw in the violence against Muslims, possibly to divert attention from multiple crises it is currently facing.
Earlier, the President’s Secretary Austin Fernando assured Colombo Telegraph that Gnanasara was not part of the President’s official delegation. However, Colombo Telegraph reported, as confirmed by Fernando, that a close associate of the BBS monk, Ulapane Sumangala Thero, was part of the delegation.
Now it is reported that Gnanasara was indeed in Japan and had attended a function where Sirisena had to speak.
The President’s Media Division, however, insists that Gnanasara had arrived in Japan on a private visit before the commencement of the President’s tour but concedes that the monk had been present at a meeting organized by the Sri Lankan Embassy to enable the President to meet the Sri Lankan community in Japan.
However, the same communique by the President’s Media Division acknowledges that invitations were sent out by Ambassador Prof Dhammika Ganganath Dissanayake as far back as February 24, 2018.
Strangely, the Chief Executive Officer of BBS Dilanthe Withanage has told Daily Mirror that the Gnanasara’s visit ‘was not pre-planned’ nor aimed at the official visit of President Maithripala Sirisena.
The sequence of events has raised questions regarding the complicity of the Government in the recent violence against Muslims.
Gnanasara was present at the funeral of the Sinhalese man attacked by Muslim youth and has been caught on film discussing possible attacks on Muslims. Colombo Telegraph has also reported how STF personnel did not take any action when a Muslim man was being abused after being attacked, the attacker clearly claiming responsibility for the violence.