The clash between Muslims and Sinhala Biuddhists in Grandpass was caused by a message sent by Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa to a monk affiliated to the Sihala Ravaya organization.
The Defence Secretary in his message has stated that his brother, the President has in writing to Deputy Minister Faizer Musthapha given permission to operate the old and new mosque in Grandpass. The message has also stated that necessary support would be given for the organization to carry out appropriate steps with regard to the decision.
Delighted by the message, the chief incumbent of the Grandpass temple who is also a member of the Sihala Ravaya had rung the temple bell to summon the dayakas (devotees) of the temple. The group had then pelted stones at the mosque causing damage to the premises.
Several people were injured in the clash and police curfew was imposed till Sunday morning. Sources say that over 40 properties in the area have been damaged by the clash.
Following is the background story to the clash:
A new Muslim mosque has been set up between the old Muslim mosque in Grandpass and the Buddhist temple. The temple had opposed the setting up of the new mosque. The Muslims have informed that the mosque would be removed soon after the end of Ramazan. However, Deputy Minister Faizer Musthapha has got a written approval from the President to operate both mosques and he had handed over the letter to the mosque on the day of the Ramazan festival. The deputy minister had got the letter in a bid to get the support of the Muslims in the Colombo Central electorate.
Angered by the move, the Defence Secretary had sent out the message to Sihala Ravaya. A group of extremist Buddhists had then started to pelt stones at the mosque and cause damage to it with the support of Sihala Ravaya and the Defence Secretary’s blessings.
Colombo Mayor, A.J.M. Muzammil had spoken to the Defence Secretary to get the situation under control. However, the Defence Secretary has said that he had no control over the matter or even the chief incumbent of the temple. The mayor was asked to find an alternative solution.
While the Sihala Ravaya is supported by the Defence Secretary to engage in the clash on behalf of the Sinhala Buddhist extremists, Deputy Minister Faizer Musthapha with the backing of the President is supporting the Muslim groups in Grandpass.
According to political analysts, the Rajapaksas adre trying to use this clash in Grandpass to overcome issues like the Weliweriya incident, the milk powder issue, the increased electricity tariffs and other problems faced by the country.