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Aragalaya group behind project to cause religious disharmony – Ranatunga

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Chief Government Whip and Minister Prasanna Ranatunga has alleged that those who planned to kill the then President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa during last year’s protest campaign are behind the ongoing efforts to cause religious disharmony.

The same lot would try to cause ethnic tensions in case their attempts to trigger religious violence, through derogatory and inflammatory statements, failed, Ranatunga said.

He said said so yesterday (31) after paying a floral tribute to the statue of his late father, Reggie Ranatunga at Udugampola, Gampaha. The Minister was responding to questions raised by journalists covering the event.

The media, too, should be mindful of the developments taking place in the country, Minister Ranatunga said, demanding the exposure of those who funded the so-called public protest campaign. The Minister said that those who had backed violent public protest campaign now inspired chaos by either propagating lies or throwing their weight behind the group responsible for derogatory and inflammatory declarations.

The Minister recalled the role played by a section of the Maha Sangha, and some artistes, in the protest campaign that forced President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to quit office last July.

Asked whether the government wasn’t concerned about international reaction to crackdown on those expressing controversial views, Minister Ranatunga declared they never practiced what they preached.

Fort Magistrate Thilina Gamage on May 28 ordered Natasha Edirisooriya , who was arrested for allegedly insulting the Buddhist religion in a comedy programme called “Modabhimana” be remanded until 07 June. She was taken into custody at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA).

The police are also awaiting the return of Jerome Fernando who flew out to Singapore last month before police could question him over some derogatory and inflammatory statements.

The Chief Government Whip responded to several other questions, including the recent arrest of Puttalam District MP Ali Sabri Raheem at the BIA while trying to smuggle in three and half kilos of undeclared gold.

Minister Ranatunga said that the government didn’t interfere in MP Raheem’s case. The Minister pointed out that MP Raheem voted against the government motion to sack the Chairman of the Public Utilities Commission Janaka Ratnayake after having accused the government of not coming to his rescue.

Customs fined him Rs. 7.4 mn and confiscated the undisclosed gold. Responding to another query, Minister Ranatunga said that MP Raheem was punished for what he did.

Minister Ranatunga said that the government would take appropriate actions as regards lawmakers accused of violations of law. The Chief Government Whip said so when the media sought an explanation regarding State Minister Arundika Fernando’s intervention to secure the release of the Chinese national who tried to enter Sri Lanka on a forged passport (SF)

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