The General Secretary of the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) Ven.Galagoda Aththe Gnansara Thero held a Sri Lankan court in contempt for the second time when on Tuesday, he defied a magistrate’s order not to cremate the body of a Buddhist monk within the disputed precincts of a Hindu kovil in the northern district of Mullaitivu.
The Sinhala-Buddhists in the Chemmalai area in Mullaitivu district wanted to cremate the body of Ven. Kolampe Medhalankara Thero, the chief priest of a Buddhist temple on land which is claimed by the Ganesha kovil.
The Kovil management and Hindu its devotees objected to the cremation there saying that cremating or burying a body within temple premises or adjacent to it, would amount to desecrating the holy place.
But the Buddhists argued that the land was disputed and at any rate as Sri Lanka is a Buddhist country, the rights of the Buddhists should be protected. They rejected the Tamils’ suggestion that an alternative place be found.
The matter was taken to a local court of Magistrate S.Lenin Kumar, who after hearing the two sides, suggested that the body be created or buried on the beachfront outside an army camp.
But defying the order, the Buddhists under the leadership of BBS General Secretary Ganasara Thero cremated the body within the compound of the Hindu kovil.
The Tamils complained that the police paid no heed to their plea that what was being done was illegal and contempt of court. The police, they alleged, held the protesters back and actively facilitated the cremation.
Tamil politicians from the North, including Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MP, Shanthi Srikantarajah and M.A.Sumanthiran and Tamil Peoples’ Council leader C.V.Vigneswaran condemned the action of the police and sought redress from the government.
Lawyers in the Northern Province held a human chain protest and demanded that the Attorney General file a case of contempt of court against Ven.Gnanasara Thero.
In August 2018, Ven.Gnanarasa had been sentenced for six years by another court to abusing human rights litigant Sandya Eknaligoda, wife of missing cartoonist Prageeth Eknaligoda.
However ,in a sudden move in May 2019, President Maithripala Sirisena pardoned the monk and released him.
After release, Ven. Gnanasara was quiet for some time creating an impression that he had turned over a new leaf. But he has become active again, perhaps to whip up communal passions which might be useful for some of his political patrons.