May 28, Colombo: Monks of an extremist Buddhist group in Sri Lanka today launched a sit-in protest inside the Religious Affairs Ministry demanding the government to disband a recently established religious police unit.
Monks of the Ravana Balaya organization had launched the sit-in protest in the Ministry building, local media reported.
The Buddhist monks who were mostly wearing brown color robes and a group of laymen wearing a uniform arrived there with bedding vowed to stay there until the special police unit to probe religious clashes abolished.
Later they moved into the room of the Secretary of the Ministry N.K.B. Dissanayaka and stayed there.
However, latest reports said that the group withdrew from the Ministry following police mediation.
The Rawana Balaya earlier handed over a letter to the Buddha Sasana Ministry demanding the withdrawal of the special police unit to look into religious disputes before the Wesak Poya Day.
The group threatened to move in and occupy the Ministry building if the new police unit was not withdrawn before the Wesak Poya Day.
Ravana Balaya criticizes the special police unit while another Buddhist extremist movement Bodu Bala Sena hails it. Reliable sources say the leaders of the two violent groups are in a competition to become the prominent militant group among Buddhist extremists.
Responding to the complaints of rising incidents of religious intolerance from extremist Buddhist monk groups towards religious minorities, especially towards Muslims, the government set up the special police unit to handle the complaints.
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa recently vowed not to allow any individual or an organization to take the law into their hands and create religious discord in the country.