The latest targets in the Bodhu Bala Sena’s anti – Muslim hate campaign are innocuous signboards installed by the Road Development Authority along the Kandy-Kurunegala Road at Parakahadeniya falling under the Mawathagama Police station’s jurisdiction!
When Bodhu Bala Sena’s general secretary Galagodaaththe Gnanasara Thero publicly demanded in Kurunegala that the “offensive” signboards saying”Silence Please-Mosque Ahead” should be removed , the Police promptly obeyed him and attempted to do so on the following day but was thwarted due to protesting Muslim people in Parakahadeniya.
United Peoples Freedom Alliance(UPFA) National list MP Neranjan Wickremasinghe who is the Sri Lanka Freedom Party(SLFP) organizer for Mawathagama Electoral division organizer has now intervened and ensured Police protection for the signboards after reassuring the troubled Muslim people that it would not be removed.
This latest episode in the on going campaign being waged by the “Ethno Religious Fascist” Bodhu Bala Sena organization against religious minorities in Sri Lanka had its beginning on Sunday August 11th. On that day the Bodhu Bala Sena(BBS) staged a rally in Kurunegala the capital city of North-Western Province known as Wayamba.
On that day the general secretary of the BBS Galagodaaththe Gbanasara Thera addressed the .rally that was attended by around 500 persons. Predictably Gnanasara Thera uttered a lot of anti-Muslim diatribes in his speech.
One of the “issues”raised by him at Kurunegala was about two signboards along the Kandy-Kurunegala road known as the A-10 Highway. The signboards installed by the Road Development Authority at Parakahadeniya on the highway stated “Silence Please-Mosque Ahead”. The boards are in Sinhala,Tamil and English. The English letters in Capitals of “Silence Please” are on top and larger than the letters of ”Mosque Ahead” appearing below. below. Apparently there are two Mosques in the vicinity and the signboards were placed on either side of the road.
Gnanasara Thera who is notorious for his foul mouth and anti-Muslim venom declared that the signboards were insulting and offensive to the Sinhala Buddhist majority in Sri Lanka. He threatened that if the signboards were not removed in 24 hours the Bodhu Bala Sena would directly intervened and destroy them.
The signboards had been placed at that spot because t of two Mosques being there in close proximity. One was the older “Parakahadeniya Periya Jummap Pallivaasal”(Grand Mosque) and the other the newer Jamiyuth Thowheed Jummah Mosque of the Thowheed Jamath. The sign boards were not put up by the Mosque administration. They were erected there by the Road Development Authority(RDA) out of its own budget at a cost of 22,000 Rupees. The RDA which is responsible for all highways in the country had done so out of respect for the religious sensibilities of Muslims praying at the Mosques. It was done so to discourage vehicles from making unnecessary noise at the spot.Most motorists did observe silence when passing the spot and this is what seems to have irritated fascist in saffron.
Any sensible person who heard Gnanasara Thera’s provocative demand that the Parakahadeniya sign boards be removed would have dismissed it as the ranting of a raving lunatic. But not so the Khakied guardians of law and order in Sri Lanka. Recent happenings have conclusively proved that the Sri Lankan Police are functioning as minions of the – Bodhu Bala Sena-Sihala Ravaya-Ravana Balakaya -whenever these elements target the religious minorities in general and those of the Islamic faith in particular.One reason attributed to this contemptible conduct by the cops is the perception that these Ethno religious Fascists enjoys full support of the upper echelons of the Defence establishment.
Whatever the reason or motive the Police did act promptly to carry out Gnanasara Thera’s demand before his 24 hour ultimatum was over. A contingent of Police personnel led by the Headquarters Inspector of the Mawathagagama Police station descended upon the location of the signposts at about 10 am on Monday August 12th. The intention was to remove or demolish the signboards as demanded by the BBS.As to what authority the Police had to do so and whether they were acting under any higher official’s instructions is unknown.
Parakahadeniya is a place with a very large Muslim population. No sooner had the Police arrived at the spot news began to spread quickly. Within minutes a large crowd consisting of Muslims gathered at the scene. They protested vehemently at the proposed Police action and stated that they would not allow the cops to carry out the orders of the Bodhu Bala Sena. Several local authority politicians also arrived and added support to the people’s protest.
The Police were asked to show their authorisation to remove the signboards. The Police sheepishly admitted that they had no authority but were taking precautionary measures to prevent possible breaches of peace. Some of the youths in the crowd then shouted out angrily that peace would be breached immediately if the Police touched the signboards.They were instantly admonished and silenced by Muslim elders. The Police found themselves hopelessly outnumbered with several Muslims surrounding the signboards protectively.
It also transpired in the exchange of words between the Police and the public that the cops were under the erroneous impression that those responsible for administering the Mosques had put up the signboards unilaterally without proper permission and so were violating the law. The Police were enlightened that the Mosque administration was not responsible and that the RDA had done so quite legally. The Police were advised that removing the signboards without permission was illegal.Muslim elders then told the cops that if the Police got proper authorisation from the Road Development Authority with Concurence from the Mosque administrators the Parakahadeniya public would not obstruct the removal of the signboards.
On that note the Police left realising perhaps that they had no business to be there and were acting in excess of the law. The people too returned but a few youths mounted vigil from vantage points in case the Police came back.
Later in the night at about 8 pm on Monday a meeting was held at the residential compound of Mawathagama Pradeshiya Sabha member Taseem. It was attended by UPFA Parliamentarian Neranjan Wickremasinghe who is also the SFP organizer for Mawathagama electorate. Kurunegala SLFP organizer Abdul Sattar was also present.
Neranjan Wickremasinghe expressed regret for the unnecessary inconvenience caused and assured the people that the signboards would not be removed. He said that he had contacted the Police over the matter and been informed that no further action would be taken to remove the boards.When it was pointed out that the Bodhu Bala Sena may try to invade Parakahadeniya and destroy the signboards,Wickremasinghe responded by saying that he would ensure that Police are deployed at the spot to protect the signboards.It is indeed ironic that the very same Police that tried to remove the signboards at the behest of Gnansara Thera will now guard them from harm at the hands of the Bodhu Bala Sena.
Thus ends the latest episode of the Bodhu Bala Sena’s anti-Muslim campaign.This then is the story of how even signboards saying “silence Please” too now being depicted as the enemy by Ethno religious Fascists who wage war to destroy the just peace and ethnic harmony of this blessed Island which was once described as the “Dhammadeepa”.
DBS Jeyaraj can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org