Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Prez, PM urged to probe Ven. Sobitha Thera’s demise

Prelate’s successor warns govt of dire consequences unless impartial probe is held

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The National Movement for Social Justice (NMSJ) has warned President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to probe sudden demise of Ven Maduluwawe Sobitha Thera or face the consequences.

Ven. Sobitha Thera had been the leader of the NMSJ at the time of his death last November. The prelate died in Singapore, while undergoing medical treatment.

The Ven. Thera’s successor Prof. Sarath Wijesooriya of the Sinhala Department of the University of Colombo yesterday told The Island that the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration should immediately initiate an investigation into the alleged conspiracy.

The NMSJ spearheaded a major campaign against President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s re-election bid at the January 8, 2015 presidential polls.

Asked whether the NMSJ suspected foul play in Ven. Sobitha’s death, Prof. Wijesooriya emphasized that the bone of contention was the specific allegation in respect of Ven. Sobitha’s death made by Ven. Uduwe Dhammaloka Thera. Therefore, it would be the responsibility of President Maithripala Sirisena to probe the death of Ven. Sobitha.

Responding to another query, Prof. Wijesooriya said the government couldn’t afford to ignore Ven. Dhammaloka Thera’s claim on the basis it was a politically motivated statement. "Of course, Ven. Dhammaloka has made a calculated move in the wake of him being arrested for illegally keeping a baby elephant," the professor alleged.

Having watched Ven. Dhammaloka accusing the government of Ven. Sobitha’s sudden demise on television on March 17 and a subsequent statement to the media on March 20, the NMSJ decided to seek President Sirisena’s attention. Prof. Wijesooriya said that he on behalf of the NMSJ had written to President Sirisena, PM Wickremesinghe and IGP N.K. Illangakoon requesting an immediate inquiry.

Prof. Wijesooriya said the NMSJ had sought the government intervention before Ven. Dhammaloka called a media briefing at the Abhayaramaya in Narahenpita where the accusation was repeated on Monday. Ven. Elle Gunawansa Thera and Ven Muruttettuwe Ananada, too, addressed the media. Pivithuru Hela Urimaya leader and UPFA MP Udaya Gammapila repeated the allegation at a separate media briefing on the same day.

In a letter addressed to President Sirisena, Prof. Wijesooriya has said that Ven. Dhammaloka Thera accused the government of assassinating Ven. Sobitha Thera. He says that the accusation will certainly make those who had loved the Ven. Thera sad. The existence of the NMSJ, too, was in jeopardy due to allegations, Prof. Wijesooriya said.

President Sirisena has been also informed that the claim of several monks critical of the government facing mysterious deaths was an extremely serious issue which couldn’t be taken lightly.

Prof. Wijesooriya said that Ven. Dhammaloka had directed the allegation in respect of Ven. Sobitha’s sudden demise at PM Wickremesinghe.

Prof. Wijesooriya said that Ven. Dhammaloka made the original accusation from Aluthkade court premises.

The NMSJ chief said the police should request Ven. Dhammaloka and other monks and politicians having information and evidence to submit them. This should be done immediately to thwart bankrupt politicians from deceiving the public. Prof. Wijesooriya pointed out that those who had accused the government of Ven. Sobitha Thera’s demise also repeated conspiracy theory over. Ven. Gangodawila Soma Thera’s death.

Prof. Wijesooriya said Ven. Sobitha had been very disappointed over the government’s failure. "In fact, I strongly criticized the government and pointed out Ven. Sobitha’s anger at the way yahapalana rulers behaved. But, those trying to exploit Ven. Sobiha’s death should be exposed. Therefore, a thorough inquiry is required."

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