At a time when Sinhala Government ministers maintain cowardly silence about the racist Anti-Muslim campaign of the Bodhu Bala Sena(BBS), some positive,encouraging developments have occurred in the North-Western Province known as Wayamba.
Many parts of the North-Western Province have been in recent times a hotbed of BBS activity. Areas in Wayamba province such as Kuliyapitiya, Narammala, Mawathagama, Dambadeniya and Kurunegala town have witnessed anti-Muslim actions in the form of demonstrations, rallies, poster and leaflet campaigns.Threatening letters have been sent in some places to Muslim businesses. Some shops too have been attacked in the night.
Although this BBS dark cloud continues to loom across the Norrh-Western horizon, a silver lining is now discernible in the form of two Sinhala Ministers in the Rajapaksa Govt. In a refreshing departure from the conduct of others in the Govt these two ministers hailing from the Wayamba province have taken an enlightened and courageous stand against the ethno-religious Fascism of Bodhu Bala Sena(BBS).
The two persons are Senior Minister of Consumer Welfare SB (Sarath) Nawinna and Minister of Botanical Gardens and Public Recreation Jayarathne Herath. Both were elected to Parliament on the United Peoples Freedom Alliance(UPFA)ticket from Kurunegala district in the North Western Province.
While most political leaders from the majority community maintain conspicuous silence and inaction for fear of offending the Fascist power of the BBS, Sarath Nawinna has dared to take the bull by its horns and metaphorically chase it away.This commendable feat accomplished last month has gone unreported in the mainstream media so far.
According to information available the Bodhu Bala Sena had organized an anti-Muslim demonstration and meeting under the pretext of Anti-Halal action at Wariyapola in the NWP on Sunday February 17th 2013.Posters had been pasted and leaflets distributed calling upon Sinhala Buddhist patriots to attend.
Apparently four Sinhala businessmen in Wariyapola with links to BBS were behind this move in a bid to undermine trade competition from Muslims.
SB Nawinna who is the Sri Lanka Freedom Party(SLFP)organizer for the Wariyapola electoral division came to know of it when he returned to Wariyapola from Colombo on Friday 15th.He immediately convened a meeting on the following Saturday Feb 16th.
The meeting was attended by the Wariyapola Pradeshiya Sabha chairman Ananda Jayalath, Wariyapola Police headquarters Inspector, Respected Buddhist priests in Wariyapola,Members of the Sinhala Traders Association, Muslim business representatives and some prominent citizens of the area .
Senior minister Sarath Nawinna addressed the meeting and stated unequivocally that no Bodhu Bala Sena anti-Muslim demonstration would be allowed in Wariyapola.He said that anyone trying to promote hatred against Muslims and incite violence against Muslim owned establishments would be dealt with severely.
Nawinna instructed the Police to take immediate action against anyone trying to disturb the peaceful coexistence of Sinhalese and Muslims in Wariyapola. He also telephoned the Senior Supdt of Police for the region and requested him to maintain law and order in Wariyapola and not permit the demonstration. The minister asked Police to obtain a court order if necessary to prevent the BBS demonstration.
The Buddhist priests present welcomed Nawinna’s stance and endorsed the action taken by him.
Having gained the support of those present the minister then directly addressed the Businessmen with BBS links and warned them to call off the demonstration or face legal consequences. The BBS elements then assured the minister and gathering that the BBS demonstration would not take place in Wariyapola.
The proposed Bodhu Bala Sena demonstration was cancelled in Wariyapola on Feb 17th. However some BBS activists from Narammala came in two vans and three cars to Wariyapola on the same day and tried to stage an ad hoc street demonstration.
Although Nawinna was not present some of his supporters acting on his instructions assembled a group of people including Buddhist priests and protested against the “BBS outsiders”.They were told bluntly that there was no room for the Bodhu Bala Sena in Wariyapola and were asked politely to leave.
The Police also present at the scene “advised”the BBS squad to depart peacefully.
The BBS activists then dumped bundles of leaflets they had brought with them on the road and retreated from Wariyapola. The BBS leaflets were taken away and quietly burnt.
This was how the Fascist Bodhu Bala Sena was routed at Wariyapola the birthplace of the courageous patriot Wariyapola Sri Sumangala Thera who took down the Union Jack and hoisted the Lion flag in defiance of the British in 1815.He was executed.Sri Sumangala’s statue is erected in Wariyapola and bears testimony to a true,Sinhala Buddhist patriot as opposed to the fascists masquerading as pseudo-patriots nowadays.
The other noteworthy stance against the Bodhu Bala Sena was taken by Minister of Botanical Gardens and Public Recreation,Jayarathne Herath in Kurunegala town.
The chief priest of the Kurunegala Athagala Rajamaha Vihare an ardent member of the Bodhu Bala Sena had put up two Giant “Anti-Halal”hoardings on Kandy road in Kurunegala. The hoardings had been causing much heartburn to Muslims living in the town and areas such as Theliyagonna and Mallawapitiya within the municipality.Lots of crackers were also lit under the hoardings when news of “Halal” being abolished was announced on Monday March 11th.
When representations were made by Muslim residents of Kurunegala to the minister Jayarathne Herath,he took prompt action. He personally met the chief priest and requested him to remove the hoardings. When the Priest refused a heated discussion took place. Thereafter the priest agreed to have them removed.This was done within 24 hours.The hoardings which were an “eye-sore”for more than wo weeks are no more.
Thereafter Jayarthne met with a representative gathering of the Muslim community in Mallawapitiya along the Kurunegala-Kandy road.
Jayarathne Herath addressing the gathering said he was aware of the anti-Muslim campaign being undertaken in various parts of the country by certain elements. While condemning such activities ,Herath said that,speaking as a minister in President Rajapaksa’s Govt, he would not tolerate such conduct in Kurunegala town or Kurunegala electoral division.
He assured the Muslims that they need not fear anti-Muslim elements and that he Jayarathne Herath would guarantee their protection. He said that if necessary he would get on the streets to protect Muslims from criminal elements.
Jayarathne Herath said that law abiding Muslims could live in peace and that if problems arose he would contact President Rajapaksa and get the Army down to protect them.He was thanked profusely by the Muslims at the meeting.The Muslim community feeling insecure at current events was greatly heartened by the ministers firm assurance.
These then are the two tales of how two Sinhala ministers from Wayamba have bravely confronted the BBS and acted justly and correctly. Both deserve to be congratulated and complimented.
DBS Jeyaraj can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org