More details are emerging about an incident in which an armed bodyguard of an affluent Buddhist monk has threatened Muslim and Tamil people who had been protesting against land grabbing in Pulmoddai, Trincomalee.
The Buddhist monk in question is Panamure Thilakawansa Nayaka Thera, a frontline member of the task force appointed by ex-president Gotabaya Rajapaksa to manage archeological heritage in the eastern province.
He is also chief Sangha Nayake of north, east and Thamankaduwa and chief incumbent at Asirimale Aranya Senasana.
On April 01, people were opposing a land grab attempt by monks and archaeology officials at Ponmalaikuda, where a coastal farming land used by Tamils and Muslims was to be taken over for a Buddhist construction.
The group of nearly 30 was escorted by Army, police and civilian bodyguards, just two days after a similar attempt failed.
Community leader Mohamed Saibuddeen told a soldier who was digging the earth that the land was taken over by monks secretly on a 99-year lease, without any agreement by area residents.
He also said that as per a gazette notification issued by the commissioner general of lands, they had raised objections within six weeks.
As was caught on video, the soldier admitted he was unaware of the owners of the land, and that he had brought a team to obey an order only, without saying from whom the order had come.
Saibuddeen replied by issuing a challenge to the ‘Mahanuwara Maha Nikaya’ to visit the location and tell the media that what the monks was doing is correct, and said if that was done, they would not claim not an inch of the land.
Tamil and Muslim farmers of Thethavaditivu, Ponmalaikuda, Arisimalai and Shaba Nagar say they have been farming in the land for several years, while area fishermen too, use it to take a rest from their livelihood.
A fence surrounding a plot was damaged when Panamure Thilakawansa Nayaka Thera’s brother, identified as Sampath, drove a vehicle into the land.
When people raised objections, a PSD bodyguard of the monk threatened them at gunpoint.
He backed down when challenged to fire at them.
Monk’s armed bodyguard threatens Muslim & Tamil protestors - JDS