Have police made a pledge to a powerful minister as regards the BBS chief?

An unholy affair

Island Editorial

Police have so far failed to trace Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) General Secretary Ven. Galagodaatte Gnanasara Thera, who is in hiding, claiming that his life is in danger and, therefore, he cannot come out. Cabinet Spokesman Dr. Rajitha Senaratne has said a government minister is shielding the controversial monk. The question is whether the minister concerned was a prominent member of the Rajapaksa Cabinet. If so, he may have aided and abetted the BBS under the former government as well. Is he one of the UPFA ministers who travelled to Singapore in 2014 and came back to break ranks with the Rajapaksa administration in time for the last presidential election, thereby, boosting the then Opposition’s morale?

One of the main reasons why Mahinda Rajapaksa lost the 2015 presidential election was his government’s alleged links to the BBS, which alienated Muslim voters, who backed Maithripala Sirisena to the hilt. The Muslims were resentful that the BBS enjoyed free rein and legal immunity on Rajapaksa’s watch. His government did not care to act even when ethno-religious violence engulfed Aluthgama in 2014. It may be recalled that one of his ministers visited the trouble-torn area in the immediate aftermath of the attacks and blamed the Muslims for having triggered the riots; his was a despicable attempt to justify the craven acts of violence against Muslims. Is he the one who is accused of shielding the BBS chief at present? It was only natural that Rajapaksa incurred the wrath of the Muslims and, thereby, ruined his chances of being re-elected.

If the supporters of the former government leaders are actually behind the ongoing anti-Muslim campaign, as some ruling party politicians claim, then they are going to commit political hara-kiri again by antagonising the Muslim community. But, are they so naïve and stupid as to drive the Muslims to throw their weight behind the UNP again at a future election? Who really stands to gain politically from attacks on Muslims at this juncture?

One is intrigued. If the backers of the previous regime have a hand in the ongoing anti-Muslim campaign, as alleged, then how come a minister of the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government stands accused of providing safe haven to the BBS head? Both these allegations—one against the former leaders and the other against the present government—cannot be true at the same time. The government would have swung into action to get the perpetrators of crimes against Muslims brought to justice if they had had any links to its political rivals. It has even been digging up bare lands in the South in search of former leaders’ Lamborghinis, which, it says, have been buried somewhere. It has secured the backing of some powerful nations in a bid to trace their rivals’ ill-gotten funds believed to have been stashed away in offshore accounts. Surprisingly, that kind of high octane performance is lacking on the part of the yahapalana leaders where the search for Gnanasara Thera is concerned. Why?

What is this world coming to when police cannot even trace a Buddhist monk in hiding? They should be ashamed of themselves. They are either incompetent or helpless vis-à-vis political pressure. It may be recalled that the current IGP was once seen on television touching his forelock and giving an assurance to a minister over the phone, at a public function, that a suspect would not be arrested. So much for the independence of the long arm of the law under the yahapalana government!

Have police made a similar pledge to another powerful minister as regards the BBS chief? The much-publicised recent arrest of a BBS activist may be a red herring. Police hurriedly summoned a media conference to announce that arrest apparently in a bid to cover up their failure. Will they call another media briefing and explain why they have failed to trace the BBS head? – (The minister concerned is Champika Ranawake of JHU)

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