Colombo, May 22 (newsin.asia): Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena on Wednesday pardoned the firebrand Buddhist monk, Ven. Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thero, and had taken steps to order his release, a top source in the Presidential Secretriat said.
The source further said that the release of the monk is based on a certification of good conduct by the Prisons Department and also other considerations, which he did not reveal.
It is expected that the formalities will be completed and the monk released on Thursday.
The President’s not unexpected action is apparently in appreciation of the monk’s relentless efforts, in the past few years, to sensitize the authorities and the people of Sri Lanka to growing Jehadist tendencies in a section of the country’s Muslims.
It was only when local Jehadis, affiliated to the Islamic State, carried out nine suicide bombings in the country on April 21, that it dawned on the people and the authorities that Ven.Gnanasara Thero had been speaking the truth.
It was felt that if only the monk’s warnings were heeded and steps had been taken to nip the menace in the bud, 253 innocent people would not have lost their lives and the country would not have lost US$ 1.5 billion in tourism revenue.
Last Saturday, the President met Ven.Gnanasara Thero in the Welikade jail on the sidelines of a function to release over 700 prisoners to mark the Buddhist festival of Vesak. The monk had been serving a six year sentence in the jail since December 2018 in a contempt of court case.
According to Dr. Dilanthe Vithanage, the CEO of the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), of which Ven. Gnanasara Thero is General Secretary, the President had a 45 minute meeting with the monk. Other reports said that the monk had given him detailed information about the activities of Jehadi groups in Sri Lanka, information which had been given to him by Muslims themselves.
Moderate, peace-loving Muslims were the first to demand the release of Ven.Gnanasara Thero. Western Province Governor Azath Salley and the Eastern Province Governor MLAM Hisbullah had openly sought the release of the monk.
On Wednesday Sally told the media that he expects the monk’s early release.
“We have made representations to President Maithripala Sirisena for his release from jail,” Salley was quoted as saying in a media release issued by his office.
He also pointed out that the prediction of the BBS General Secretary on extremism had come true.
Sally was accompanied by former Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake during his visit to the Welikada Prison to see the monk.
Following, Gnanasara Thero’s release ,President Sirisena is likely to take a sympathetic view of military intelligence officers who had been detained or harassed for alleged abduction of Tamils and others during the separatist war which ended in May 2009.
Sirisena had publicly stated that detaining these intelligence operatives who were only doing their job was unfair.
Opposition nationalist leaders had said that detention and harassment were demoralizing the intelligence services. According to one source the Sirisena-Wickeremesinghe government, which took over in January 2015, had been harassing 50 intelligence officers.
It is said that one of the reasons for the non-use of accurate and timely Indian intelligence inputs given ahead of the April 21 suicide blasts was the demoralization that had afflicted the Lankan intelligence community.