May 16, Colombo: Leader of ACMC and Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen and party members visited the areas in the Northwestern Province affected by the anti-Muslim mob attacks on May 13th to assess the damages.
MPs of ACMC including Ameer Ali and State Minister Abdulla Mahroof accompanied Minister Bathiudeen on the observation tour.
During his observation tour, the victims of the attacks informed the Minister that among the mobs who attacked the pocket Muslim settlements in North Western Province (NWP) on Monday 13 May, were several groups of 400-600 individuals. Many of them were openly armed with swords and knives, it was informed.
Victims told the Minister that members of some mobs were dressed in identical colors and drove on motorbikes or arrived in buses that appeared to be specifically arranged for the attacks. According to the victims the attacks also appeared to have been planned in advance.
Minister Bathiudeen visited Kotaramulla, Minuwangoda, Hettipola, Kottambapitiya, Bingiriya and Kiniyama in NWP to inspect the riot victims and the situation of welfare measures for them.
During his tour the Minister also met the Upa Pradhana Sanga Nayaka of Sathkorala Maha Disawa and peace activist Most Ven. Mahagal Kadawala Punyasara Nayaka Thero.
The award winning Buddhist Monk, who joined Minister Bathiudeen at the funeral of riot victim Fouzul Ameer, dismissed the serious accusations aimed at the ACMC leader and stressed of the urgency to create peace in NWP so that likelihood of more attacks are diminished.
Most Ven. Punyasara Thero said the Muslim people should now reconcile and reintegrate with Sinhalese and Tamla people of Sri Lanka.
"I have known Minister Bathiudeen for a long time. He has been helping Buddhist temples and Ven Buddhist monks in Northern Province. He spent millions of rupees to renovate Buddhist temples in Mannar and Vavuniya. Since I regularly travel to Puttalam as well as North I can confirm this. Therefore Minister Bathiudeen does not only work for Muslims. I also say that accusations against Minister Bathiudeen are false. Where are Muslims to go if they are attacked like this? Are they to jump in to the sea? It is clear that there is a political agenda behind these riots," the Thero said.
On 13 May, Minister Bathiudeen informed the victims and Muslim families in the areas he visited that he held discussions with President Maithripala Sirisena and PM Ranil Wickremesinghe on various relief measures for the affected.