By Latheef Farook –
BBS unleash mayhem at Media briefing; However Ven Watareka Thera vowed to unite the nation
A small minority of Muslim families were living peacefully for centuries in the Marichchikattui village in the Musali division in Mannar district.
They were involved in paddy cultivation and other such works .In keeping with their religious requirement they built their own mosque there. To help continue with their cultivation works the government has even built a dam before 1970.
Life was simple but they remained contented lot.
In 1990 when the Tamil tiger terrorists ethnic cleansed the Muslims in the north, these Muslim families in the Marichchikati village too were driven out. They too lost all their belongings and ended up with empty hands in refugee camps in Puttalam where, like other refugees, languished in poverty besides facing numerous other problems.
They were all happy when the government forces defeated the LTTE in May 2009 in the hope that they too could return to their own soil and rebuild their lives.
With the situation improving after the war they started returning to their ancestral village of Marichchikatti only to realize that the entire village has become jungle as they were neglected for almost two decades.
Yet they did not lose hope. All what they wanted was to clear the jungle and live in their own soil. Pinning their hope on Allah they jointly and individually cleared the jungle which was no easy task. They did so with the support of the government and the divisional secretary.
They were all poor and did not possess the money to rebuild proper houses. However they built mud wall houses covered with palm eves and settled down there. A nongovernmental organization helped them put up these huts.
Today there are around 150 families and about 500 people.
This has nothing to do with Wilpattu sanctuary. However the Bodu Bala Sena which is spearheading a fierce anti Muslim campaign, tearing apart communities and pushing the country towards a disastrous path, began a vicious campaign stating that the Marichchikatti is located in wilpattu and Industries Minister Rishard Bathiudeen is colonizing Wilpattu sanctuary with Muslims.
This was malicious campaign as the Marichichikattu village belongs to Musali division in Mannar district while wilpattu, according to survey department geographical map, is in Puttalam and Anuradhapura district.
With the BBS campaign intensifying a group of eight Buddhist monks led by Jathika Bala Sena secretarty Ven Watareka Vijitha Thera visited Marichchikatti village on a study tour while so called Muslim parliamentarians who have sold their souls for positions and perks were busy watching cricket match.
Contrary to BBS propaganda they found that Muslims were living in their own village in Marichchikatti and not inside the Wilpattu sanctuary.
These Muslims have also produced deeds and all other relevant documents for their lands. They had also shown evidence of an old mosque there before they were evicted. This mosque is now under Navy control.
People in the area also pointed out that there is a village called Pookkulam which is purely a Sinhalese village inside Wilpattu.However BBS raised no question about this.
On their return to Colombo the Jathika Bala Sena team led by Rev Watareka Thera, who is also UPFA Mahiyangana Pradesiya Sabha member and keen on maintaining centuries old communal harmony and peace between Sinhalese and Muslims, organized a press conference at Nippon Hotel, Slave Island, Colombo on Wednesday April 9.
The media briefing, which was also the inaugural conference of the JBS- an organization by its definition professing values antithetical to the BBS.
In this regard Ceylon Today report of 10 April 2014 had this to state;
While Buddhist monks, Moulavis and several Muslim civil society representatives had also attended the JBS media briefing, it is reported that the BB’s request to participate in the press conference was refused by the JBS precipitating the shouting match that ensued.
The BBS which was accusing Minister Rishard Bathiudeen of illegally settling Muslim colonies inside Wilpattu National Park requested that their revelations be logically challenged and refuted immediately in open view of the media representatives. At the alleged failure to do so the BBS had then allegedly proceeded to chase out the Muslim leaders or Moulavis of the JBS from the premises.
In order to ascertain whether the remaining priests of the JBS were indeed Buddhist monks or mere men in robes Ven Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thera posed some questions to the group about the sasana(monkhood) which the group had miserably failed to answer satisfactorily.
Several young samanera monks who had come with the BBS had shown signs of distress and been shook up during the incident.
Meanwhile Ven Wateraka Thera said that the “press conference was summoned to launch his barely a week old organization JBS under the theme “national and religious unity and reconciliation”. Within minutes after arriving at the venue Ven Gnanasara Thera,Ven Nandea Thera and 25 to 30 others pushed past even the police and surrounded me. They pinched me, assaulted me, and pulled my robe.Ven Gnanasara Thera then told his group to go and get a sarong and skull cap which Muslims wear for me to wear. They stole five files of me which contained very important documents”.
The monk continuing his ordeal said; Then Ven Gnanasara Thera threatened me and asked me to make a statement which he had prepared to the effect of me apologizing and begging forgiveness for disgracing the sangha and Buddhists in front of Muslims. I was asked to disown my organization-the JBS. Because I feared for my life and I was under duress I went ahead and said what he wanted me to say.
Soon after other police personnel came and I was taken to the Slave Island Police Station where I made a complaint. Even if one dies after another, until my last breath I will fight for national and religious reconciliation. I will unite this nation.
The reason why the BBS did this is because I have a compact disc containing footage of a party that the BBS had on 10 September 2010 inside the Wilpattu National Park where they drank over 25 bottles of arrack, drove vehicles and played cricket.They were afraid that I was going to place this incriminating evidence in the public domain. Since my life is under threat we will have a press conference at a much more safer and secretive location. They left us saying that if I ever make a statement to the media I would be cut into pieces and thrown in the river.”
Meanwhile Police Media Spokesman SSP Ajith Rohana had said that “although nothing had happened and no arrests were made Ven Galagoda Aththe had attempted to remove Ven Watareka Thera’s robe”.