An alleged assault on a Buddhist monk and his driver by a group of Muslims, in Aluthgama on the Galle–Colombo Road yesterday (12th June) evening, near the Aluthgama-Welipenna road near Dharga town, forced the Police to fire tear-gas on a group of people, who were protesting over the incident. Traffic jams were also reported in the area after the protesters blocked the road.
The incident took place on Poson Poya Day, sacred to Buddhists in Sri Lanka.
Ministers Kumara Welgama and Rohitha Abeyagunawardene visited the scene in an attempt to sort out matters. Welagama’s vehicle was reportedly stoned by the angry crowd and damaged.
According to a resident of Aluthgama who wishes to remain anonymous, “right now, on what was to be a peaceful Poson Poya day, my town Aluthgama is a war zone because of religious fanaticism. Mobs rule the streets, smashing Muslim shops, and Police just fired tear-gas to disperse the mob surrounding the Police station. There are rumours floating that Muslims are assaulting the Sinhalese in Dharga Town”. He adds that this is a blatant lie, “I spoke to a friend there and he said there was no such thing happening”.
He says that this is a repeat of events, “the last times it was kept out of the press and over a thousand military personnel were brought in. This is one area where Muslims and Buddhists live eyeball to eyeball.”
He goes on to say that there are ‘agent provocateurs’ who have been working to bring about this situation for the last few weeks. “I see shades of July 83’ in what is happening. Even normally peaceful people have taken to the streets. I’m right in the middle of the town and can see how the provocateurs are working”, he adds.
He further states, that there is an anti-Muslim rhetoric and the most ridiculous stories being floated around, “some of the temples are involved, I live right next to one”, he adds.
This morning (Friday 13th) the town of Aluthgama is reportedly in lock-down, with a very heavy Police presence; virtual saturation with the Riot Police, two water cannon vehicles and the STF.
A volatile situation is anticipated today, after Friday prayers at the Mosque.
May 10, 2014, a shopping complex belonging to a Muslim businessman in Dharga town Aluthgama was torched by a mob of around 200 people which includes Buddhist monks. According to reports the mob had torched the shopping complex of the brother of a suspect who had allegedly molested a boy at the complex. But the court released him on bail after watching the CCTV footage of the alleged incident.
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