Despite the assurance and red notice issued by Minister of Law and Order Sagala Ratnayaka, video evidence clearly shows a pillion rider on a motor cycle hurling a petrol bomb at the 113 year old year old Gintota Meeran mosque on Galle Road around 6:55 pm last night, during curfew hours, Colombo Telegraph can reveal today.
The Law and Order Ministry’s media unit released a communique earlier yesterday, stating that the communal tension in the Gintota area was brought under control after a 12 hour curfew period was enforced at 9 pm on the 17th November. This was after additional Police battalions, the Police Special Task Force, the Anti-Riot Squad and Military were called in to bring the situation under control.
The communique sent out by the Minister Ratnayaka also issued a stern warning to rumour mongers which read “I am aware that some political groups are now on a desperate mission to turn this minor brawl into a Sinhala-Muslim clash. I urge the public not to be misled by their false propaganda. The same elements are now in the process of disseminating false videos and news on social media platform to stir up communal sentiments. I reiterate that stern action will be taken against everyone, irrespective of their positions and political affiliations, attempting to resort to racist propaganda. The same will apply to the rumour-mongers trying to capitalise on this opportunity to achieve petty political gains.”
However despite the curfew being re-enforced at 6 pm for a further 12 hour period, the hurling of the petrol bomb by a pillion rider on a motor cycle which took place at 6:55 pm, was whilst the curfew period was in effect.
Fortunately no harm was done to anyone or the Meeran Muslim Mosque, as the petrol bomb fell in the garden of its premises where no one was present.
The tense situation initially erupted on the 13 November 2017 over a bike accident involving a Sinhalese youth who had knocked down a Muslim child. The situation was amicably settled after the bike rider paid off the victims.
However on the 16 November 2017 a Sinhalese group of youth had assaulted two Muslim motor bike riders whilst reminding them of the incident that had taken place on the 13 November 2017. After one Muslim victim was hospitalized, a group led by a former Muslim Urban Council Member attacked two houses belonging to Sinhalese. One Sinhalese man was hospitalized due to the attack. The Police arrested the former Muslim Council Member and the two Sinhalese youth who assaulted the Muslim bike riders.
Thereafter prior to the situation being brought under control, the Muslim youth in the area had also gathered, raising communal tension, as they feared a similar attack on their community may take place as witnessed in Aluthgama and Darga Town in August 2014. The police have arrested 16 Sinhalese and 3 Muslims.
Meanwhile Deputy Minister of Foreign Employment and MP for Galle District, Manusha Nanayakkara told media “BBS Chief Gnanasara Thero played a key role in defusing tensions in Gintota today meeting all parties”. “More than 62 homes & businesses, around 10 vehicles were damaged due to last night violence in Ginthota,” he told media.
Another report said “Galle Gintota clash official damaged report – 05 injured, 66 houses, 26 shops, 14 vehicles 02 mosques damaged due to last night clash”. (By Manisa Unantenne)