Details are now emerging of a top cop approaching two senior Muslim Ministers last afternoon (10 August) to request them to close the new makeshift mosque in Grandpass until after the end of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting scheduled to take place in Colombo in November, Colombo Telegraph learns.
Western Province Senior DIG Anura Senanayeke had made the request although the motive of the senior police official is not clear.
Muslim Lawyers discussing the issue fear that it might be aimed at setting the stage for communal violence against the Muslim community once the summit is concluded.
DIG Senanayake, a close confidant of the upper echelons of the ruling regime has also telephoned several private media organisations, requesting them to provide adequate publicity to the activities of the Bodu Bala Sena movement.
Following several attacks on mosques in the country, the Bodu Bala Sena has always later denied their involvement.
It is also reported that despite objections raised by the Secretary to the Ministry of Difence Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the Bodu Bala Sena, Sinhala Ravaya and Ravana Balaya group, the Ministry of Religious Affairs has in writing issued permission to Muslim leaders to continue to use the new mosque building and prayer centre at Swarna Chaithya Road in Grandpass that was attacked last evening.
The makeshift prayer centre was to be used during the Ramadan fasting season after the original Grandpass mosque was relocated for development by the UDA also headed by the Secretary MOD. Mosque authorities received written permission from the Ministry of Religious Affairs to utilise the premises for their prayer centre, despite protests from the Bodu Bala Sena and other hardline Sinhala-Buddhist groups.
Following the attack, the police is now seeking and assurance that the mosque will be closed immediately. There is a strong objection to the proposal by the Muslims from the area.
Police have declared a police curfew in the Grandpass area until 7 a.m. after tensions raged following the attack on the mosque late last evening. Eyewitnesses report that the iron gates of the mosque have been dismantled and there is severe damage to the mosque premises and surrounding houses. At least five people were injured in the clashes. Unconfirmed reports reaching the Colombo Telegraph say that the mosque Imam has also been badly wounded in the incident. Two police officials were also injured and admitted to Colombo National Hospital for treatment.
The Muslim Council of Sri Lanka has urged Muslims around the country to remain calm.
The attack took place soon after Maghrib or evening prayer. Police have now cordoned off the area.
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