Colombo,June 14 (Ada Derana/newsin.asia): Venerable Gnanasara Thero, a Buddhist monk who is General Secretary of the anti-Muslim and radical nationalist Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), has been sentenced to six months Rigorous Imprisonment for threatening human rights litigant Sandya Ekneligoda in court and thereby committing contempt of court.
The sentence was delivered on Thursday by the Homagama Chief Magistrate Udesh Ranatunga, who also ordered the monk to pay a compensation of LKR 50,000 (US$ 314) to be paid immediately.
In the event of failing to do so, he would be required to serve an additional three months in prison, the Magistrate said.
Gnanasara Thero had threatened Sandya Eknaligoda, wife of missing journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda, in the Homagama court on January 25, 2016 . The Homagama Police filed a case charging him with criminal harassment and criminal intimidation.
The monk had become notorious in Sri Lanka for taking up anti-Muslim causes over the last few years.
He had campaigned against Halal certification for food products sold in the market alleging that the All Ceylon Jamaiyathul Ulema was using Halal certification fees to finance jihadi activities.
He also led an agitation against Sri Lankan Muslim women wearing the abayas especially those covering the face, saying that it is a national security threat. This forced some Muslim women to switch from black abayas to abayas of lighter colors.
The Muslim Council of Sri Lanka set up a system of exchanging black abayas for colorful abayas. Initially many Muslim women in Colombo responded positively.
Ganasara Thero was widely believed to have incited Sinhalese Buddhist mobs to attack Muslim properties in Aluthgama and Darga Town, Muslim settlements south of Colombo, in 2014.
The Aluthgama riots had made Sri Lankan Muslims turn against the then President, Mahinda Rajapaksa, in the January 8 ,2015 Presidential election.
With 8% of the votes veering away from Rajapaksa as a result of the riots, Rajapaksa’s opponent and the Joint Opposition candidate, Maithripala Sirisena, won the election.
Gnanasara Thero has also been against human rights activists if they are against the Sri Lankan armed forces. Hence his abusive remarks against Sandya Ekneligoda, whose husband, cartoonist Prageeth Ekneligoda, had disappeared allegedly after being abducted by military intelligence.
(The featured image the top shows Ven.Gnanasara Thero emerging from a court room)