Bikkhus on the war path

Daily News Editorial

A group of Bikkhus, known for their rabid pro-Rajapaksa affiliations, and, since the day the new government was elected to office, were going all out in conducting virulent anti-regime campaigns, on Monday, vowed to step up their agitation, to force the government out of office, even if it means shedding blood in the process. Forming themselves into a collective of nationalist and Bikkhu organisations, who have banded themselves against the government, the pack, led by the Ven Muruttettuwe Ananda thera, of Abayaramaya fame, claimed at a media briefing that, this time around, they are set for a do or die battle until they see the last of the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe regime and has even called on the Mahanayakes to join in their project. The agitation, the monk said, will be centred on the government’s sale of national assets, the incarceration of the country’s war heroes and the new constitution that is aimed at dividing the country rata bedana viyavasthawa.

Ven Muruttettuwe may still be smarting by the failed nurses’ strike he spearheaded the other day against the SAITM and may be planning to hit back this time around bringing with him all Bikkhu organisations and so called nationalists who have been spewing racist venom all along to incite the majority populace since the ouster of Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The mother of all agitations, to be launched by these chauvinist elements, is slated for August. The reason, as proclaimed by the Ven Muruttettuwe; they don’t want to drag the people out onto the roads during the intervening Avurudu and Vesak. Perhaps the Ven Thera may have made allowance for Poson, which falls in June, and set apart July for the grand rehearsals for the agitation to end all other agitations.

But what is not mentioned by the Ven Muruttettuwe is the Provincial Council elections, to three provinces, is due in September. What better time to stage a massive anti-government protest than by targeting the Political Council elections? Not to be outdone, the GMOA too has given a week’s ultimatum to the government to disband the SAITM or else……. .No doubt the doctors’ strike and the anti-SAITM agitations staged by the medical students will be timed to dovetail into the massive protest of the pro-Rajapaksa Bikkhu front, with the sole purpose of creating an anarchic situation in the country to make the government unpopular and thus advance the agenda of the Rajapaksas.

The Bikkhu organisation, which describes itself patriotic nationalists, formed to save the nation from impending catastrophe, by the sale of national assets, was very much alive and kicking at the time Mahinda Rajapaksa invited the Chinese to virtually takeover the country by handing over the key economic projects to the Asian Dragon and plunging the government to astronomical debt. Large swathes of land from Hambantota were given away to China for the purpose of building the port. Large scale evictions too were carried out to facilitate the venture, where, long time inhabitants of traditional land in Hambantota were whisked away to make way for the Chinese projects. Ven Muruttettuwe and his band of patriotic Bikkhus were nowhere to be spotted. Ditto for the arrest of war heroes which the Bikkhu front has cited as another theme in their agitation.

None of these patriots, or the jathika balavega, took to the streets when the war winning former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka was dragged away and thrown behind bars. Nor were they anywhere to be seen when he was jeered at and humiliated when brought before court for hearings of the numerous cases manufactured against him. Where were these patriots, when Karuna Amman, who was responsible for the massacre of a bus load of novice monks, and the gunning down in cold blood of nearly 600 policemen in the East, when this notorious mass murderer was invested with ministerial office by Mahinda Rajapaksa that required he receives the salutes of the army and police. As for the constitution, nothing has so far been finalised, as attested to by even the Mahanayake of the Malwatte Chapter. Besides, inputs to the proposed new constitution was also made by members of the Joint Opposition who functioned in the various committees, although they later pulled out, but not before all the major tasks had been completed as stated by Minister Lakshman Kiriella. Besides, a good majority of the protesters at the grand agitation will no doubt be those who will not even have an inkling about matters in relation to constitution making but composed of the riff raff that one usually sees on any May Day in highly inebriated states.

The government should do well to see through the project of the combined Bikkhu front, which is clearly aimed at causing anarchy on the streets with the help of likeminded nationalist organisations and student fronts, reminiscent of the ugly days of the second JVP insurrection in the late eighties. It should be prepared to deal with mischief makers who are no more than foot soldiers of Mahinda Rajapaksa.