The Bodu Bala Sena organisation today responded strongly to a newspaper report claiming that the group had ordered troops into Weliweriya where violent clashes between residents and armed forces have left three persons dead and dozens injured, saying it did not possess the power to deploy the armed forces.
At a special press conference convened to refute a claim made by the Ceylon Today newspaper which published a lead story yesterday quoting the BBS General Secretary Galagodaththe Gnanasara as saying he had ordered troops into the Weliweriya area, the BBS said that the news story had been misleading.
“Who am I to command the army or give orders,” the BBS General Secretary told journalists.
He said that while the BBS had visited Rathupaswela where the public was agitating for clean drinking water and protesting against a factory they claimed was contaminating the ground water, they had only attempted to get the authorities to intervene to resolve the issue.
The General Secretary said that he had misquoted after giving a three minute interview to a newspaper on the way back to Colombo from Mahiyanganaya. and that comments he made had been erroneously reported by the journalist.
He said such inaccurate reporting could endanger the country, Buddhism, and Buddhist monks.
“Those people could get excited and even come kill us,” he expressed.
He acknowledged that the head of the newspaper group had contacted him to apologise for the error and had vowed to terminate those responsible.
In a press statement issued today the Bodu Bala Sena said that it was an open secret that the English language media was engaged in a conspiracy to discredit the group.
“It is absurd that this media organisation and its owners are saying that this headline is a translation error. It is a huge problem if this is how translations take place in a national newspaper in this country. Furthermore at a national newspaper, is it the translator who writes headlines? Doesn’t this newspaper have an editor? It is the misfortune of this country that newspaper readers are trapped by this media mafia that has come about as a result of professional journalists working to the agendas of businessmen and politicians. Most importantly, we should also seek and determine whether the editress of this newspaper is an anti-Sinhala Buddhist and an agent of an extremist group of another religion,” the BBS statement said.
The Ceylon Today in its front page today regretted the error it said had been caused by a misconstrued translation.
“The lead story in yesterday’s edition of the newspaper was regrettably based on a misconstrued translation of a brief interview given by the General Secretary of the Bodu Bala Sena Ven. Gnanasara Thera to the web edition of the paper. The Ven. Thera had in fact said that he had requested the Ministry of Defence to intervene to solve the problem faced by the people in Weliweriya and that the Ministry intervention was carried out without his knowledge. We sincerely regret any inconvenience the article may have caused to the Ministry of Defence and the Bodu Bala Sena.”
To listen the press conference click here