Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) General Secretary Galagoda Atte Gnanasara today withdrew the Fundamental Rights petition he had filed at the Supreme Court early this month which sought the court’s intervention to prevent his arrest.
Gnanasara’s lawyers had said that there was no need for the petition anymore as they had already received the necessary outcome yesterday, and hence the petition was withdrawn. Gnanasara was released on bail Wednesday despite serious charges against him, including obstructing police from exercising duties, and also for making hate speeches and insulting the Quran.
In November, the Secretary of the Sri Lanka Thawheed Jamath group Abdul Razick who was arrested by the police on charges of insulting Buddhism was ordered to be remanded by the Colombo Additional Magistrate, however yesterday when Gnanasara’s case came up, despite having even more serious charges than Razick, the same court, the Colombo Additional Magistrates Court ordered for Gnanasara’s bail, which has raised many questions pertaining to the independence of Sri Lanka’s judiciary.
In recent months, Gnanasara has been seen openly insulting the Quran, and in November he even threatened to launch a bloodbath in the Muslim predominant area of Maligawatte. In another incident in 2014, Gnanasara forcefully entered a press conference organised by Muslims and Buddhists and obstructed the police from exercising their duties, while last month in Kurunegala, he was seen openly defying the police when they tried to arrest him. However, despite the severity of the charges, the Colombo Additional Magistrate released the firebrand monk on bail.
Yesterday, Gnanasara’s arrest and subsequent granting of bail has been seen as ‘stage managed’ as no sooner he was arrested by the Police Organised Crimes Division (POCD), within less than an hour he was released on bail.
Both the government and the police have been accused of soft peddling action against Gnanasara and his BBS. Last year Gnanasara took responsibility for the 2014 Aluthgama riots against the Muslims, but no action has been taken against him.
Gnanasara shot into limelight in 2012, and has been leading gangs running riot across the country since then. Even during the previous government under ex-president Mahinda Rajapaksa, Gnanasara’s group enjoyed impunity, with Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the defense secretary at the time, openly supporting events organized by the BBS. However despite a change in government in 2015, the impunity appears to continue for Gnanasara, and he has received a further boost following the support of Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe and Champika Ranawaka, who are two senior ministers in the present coalition government.
Since April this year, Gnanasara has renewed his hate campaign against the Muslim community in the country, and over two dozen Muslim owned businesses including mosques have come under attack. (By Munza Mushtaq)