The police said today that the suspect arrested in connection to several arson attacks on Muslim shops in Nugegoda and Wijerama areas is a resident of Maharagama and has been identified as a member of the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS).
Police Spokesman DIG Priyantha Jayakody said the suspect is a 32 year old man, and he is currently in detention and is being questioned. Another three suspects were arrested on several other charges including for insulting Buddha on social media, and for damaging properties in Danthure.
However, Bodu Bala Sena’s Chief Executive Dilanthe Withanage in a video message issued this evening denied his group’s involvement in any of the attacks against the Muslim community. He claimed there was a ploy to carry out such attacks and blame it on his group. “We are denying these charges, and we have always tried to amicably solve issues and have always told the youth to never take the law into their own hands,” he said.
He said that just because a person came to their meetings, that doesn’t make them responsible for that person’s actions. “If someone who attended a meeting of Ranil Wickremesinghe, Maithripala Sirisena or Mahinda Rajapaksa committed a crime that should not be blamed on them” he said.
Withanage added that today the minorities in Sri Lanka get all their demands met but it is the majority Buddhist community that has to fight for their rights.
He also said that his group had the necessary power and strength to launch terrorism and violence but they chose to find solutions through amicable means. “If BBS wanted to launch extremism, terrorism or violence, we have the necessary power and strength, but we won’t, and even Ven. Gnanasara always tries to find solution to issues through discussions,” Withanage added.
However, despite Withanage’s claim that both his BBS group and Gnanasara have always resorted to finding solutions to issues in an amicable manner, the Colombo Telegraph possess several videos where Gnanasara himself admitted that he was behind the Aluthgama riots in 2014. In another incident in May last year, when a supporter of his group was arrested by the police Gnanasara threatened to launch a blood bath from the Muslim dominated Maligawatte.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) leader Rauff Hakeem who is also a Minister in the coalition government said that an ‘invisible hand’ was directing those responsible for maintaining the law and order in the country. “Those responsible for maintaining the law and order are being directed by an invisible hand,” Hakeem reportedly said at a meeting in Kandy.