Strong links between Sri Lanka’s Secretary to the Ministry of Defence Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) that recently instigated anti-Muslim violence in Southern Sri Lanka have been exposed by Ravaya – a mainstream Sinhala weekly newspaper in Sri Lanka.
The article written by the paper’s former Editor and its Chairman – Victor Ivan titled ‘Gotabaya’s shadow’ has revealed the extent to which Gotabaya has been influencing activities of the BBS.
The piece discloses that following the deadly attacks in Aluthgama and Beruwala, the BBS had been instructed by Gotabaya to hold a press conference and clear his name off the mounting accusations that held him responsible for the attacks on Muslims. He had asked the BBS General Secretary Galagoda Atte Gnanasara – the monk infamous for his racist remarks, to disassociate Gotabaya with the organization’s activities.
Ivan thereafter has revealed a secret, which he states that only a handful of journalists were aware of until he put it in writing.
“A top intelligence official had phoned a news editor of a well- known media institution and asked for a journalist to be assigned to cover the BBS press conference. The official had not received a positive response from the news editor. Thereafter in a matter of seconds, Gota had contacted him and demanded a journalist be sent to the BBS presser,” Ivan has written.
During this media briefing, Gnanasara had repetitively highlighted that they are in no way maintaining connections with the Defense Secretary. “This was the precise moment where the proverbial cat was let out of the bag,” Ivan has written.
He has gone on to state that Gotabaya, from being the people’s hero following the end of the war against Prabhakaran and the LTTE, has now turned into a trouble-maker that has managed to create numerous crises in the country that have heavily impacted Sri Lanka’s progress.
“He (Gotabaya) has not only nurtured extremist forces but has also continued to protect them – BBS is the perfect example of this plight. Gnanasara’s bravery is more a case of his close association with Gotabaya than it being a sheer trait,” Ivan writes.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa has also been blamed for the present predicament as he has pointed out it is Mahinda’s attitude of allowing Gotabaya to continue as he pleases, that has led to Gotabaya being able to exert a superior power that does not fall under the scrutiny of any authority.
The writer has highlighted the fact that although Gotabaya might be having aspirations of surpassing his brother (Mahinda) in politics soon enough, his continuous tendency to analyze political developments though a military angle has pushed him to inadvertently dig the graves of not simply his brothers but also the government’s political future as a whole.
Furthermore, he has also heavily criticized Gotabaya’s promotion of extra-judicial killings, describing them as a ‘fascist act’ as well as the rapid militarization of every single aspect of the country including education, which Ivan has described as Gota’s ‘ single biggest political blunder’.