ucanews.com reporter, Colombo
Updated: May 12, 2021 12:03 PM GMT
Members of Sinhala Rawaya, a coalition of Buddhist groups, protest on Sunday in Colombo over the slaughter of cattle
A Buddhist group has warned the government of widespread protests if it does not ban the slaughter of cattle in the Buddhist-majority country.
The demand follows the death on Saturday of Venerable Bowatte Indraratna Thera, 30, who self-immolated the previous day in protest over the killing of cattle by Muslims and attempts to convert Buddhists by Christians.
The monk set fire to himself near the main entrance of the Temple of the Tooth Dalada Maligawa.
“Muslims and Christians each represent about 7 percent of the population. The agitation against minority religions took a turn for the worst following a recent census that showed a higher population growth among Muslims rather than Sinhalese Buddhists, which account for about 70 percent of the population,” the analyst said.
Public Administration Minister John Seneviratne said yesterday that he supported calls for a ban on cattle slaughtering but that such a law would be difficult to enforce.
Meanwhile, the Criminal Investigation Division of the Colombo police has opened a case against a journalist who shot video of the monk’s self-immolation, arguing that he had advanced knowledge of the monk’s intentions and should have informed police to intervene.
Charitha Herath, the Media Ministry Secretary, said journalists who had advanced knowledge of the monk’s intentions should have reported them to the police.
“My issue is that if you have already [been] informed by somebody that he is going to commit suicide, you are supposed to at least inform others to get rid of that disaster,” Herath was quoted as saying in a BBC report.
Local media reported that Bowatte Indrararatna Thera described his act as “a sacrifice of a life and not a suicide,” in a statement before setting himself alight.
“We have no problem with major religions like Catholics, Christians, Muslims or Hindus, and we believe in religions co-existing, but everybody must respect the country’s constitution and give foremost place to Buddhism,” the monk was reported to have said.