Minister of Lands Janaka Bandara Tennakoon a few hours ago denied the allegations made against him regarding the Dambulla Mosque issue by the Chief incumbent of the Rangiri Dambulu Rajamaha Viharaya Ven.
Inamaluwe Sri Sumangala Thero stating ‘they were all wrong.’
Earlier the Thero told this website that the Buddhists and those of other faiths work amicably in Dambulla but the present dispute was due to Minister Tennakoon who had instigated the Muslims into demanding that they have a right to hold prayers at this makeshift mosque.
According to Sumangala Thero, Minister Tennakoon has obtained money from the rich Muslims traders from Galewela, Matale and Nikawatawala promising to grant approval through his powerful Lands Ministry to build a mosque at Kandalama.
Tennakoon however has denied the charges and threatened to take the Mahanayaka to court which the Mahanayaka has welcomed as an opportunity to expose the minister’s alleged dealings.
In an earlier incident in March/April 2010 in the run up to the elections local media reported on April 4, 2010 that the then Local Government and Provincial Council Minister Janaka Bandara Tennakoon had allegedly attacked a Buddhist shrine damaging the Buddha statue in Elamalpotha, Wahakotte, Galewela in the Matale district.
In what seems to be an ongoing battle between the Mahanayaka and Tennakoon, the future minister of Lands was to then too come under sever criticism from the Chief Incumbent Dambulla Rajamaha Viharaya Inamaluwe Sri Sumangala Thero.
At that time in the heat of the election campaign it appeared that fellow UPFA Matale district candidate Lakshman Vasantha Perera’s participation at the opening of the Buddhist shrine at Elamalpotha on March 26, 2010 had led to the attack. The Maha Sangha, local politicians and villagers accused Tennakoon of allegedly damaging the Buddha statue.
“If the government could deny visa for the US R& B singer Akon and could imprison a Sri Lankan born Malani Perera living in Bahrain for publishing two books allegedly offensive to Buddhism why cannot the police take Tennakoon into custody for attacking a Buddhist shrine and damaging the Buddha statue? This is double standard. People should teach such candidates a good lesson at the forthcoming election,” Lakshman Vasantha Perera told media at that time.
Ven. Inamaluwe Sri Sumangala Thero, told media at the time that Tennakoon and his goons had urinated on the Buddhist shrine before they damaged the Samadhi Buddha statue.
released on bail without any charges” Sri Sumangala Thero said.
The Thero further alleged at that time in April 2010 that Tennakoon had assaulted a group of people deployed by him to paste posters of a religious ceremony to invoke blessings on the people.
In what was certainly politically motivated rhetoric the Thero told media as reported, “Since I noticed the Dambulla situation turning from bad to worst because of Tennakoon, I organized a religious ceremony with the participation of 500 Buddhist monks last Friday (march 26, 2010). I deployed a group of people on Thursday in and around Dambulla to paste posters of the event. By mid afternoon Tennakoon’s security and some STF officers had come and assaulted my people and had stabbed one person injuring that individual severely. He is now warded at the Dambulla hospital.”
The Thero further accused the entire police department for their failure to uphold justice and added that the police department was the most corrupted institution in the country.
That was in April 2010. Obviously the rancour between politicians and powerful monks in Dambulla has not receded and the current Mosque dispute has merely brought out the cantankerous in some of those involved in and around this issue.
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