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Thursday, September 28, 2023

Insulting sacred Tooth Relic, an offence – Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe

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Justice, Prison Affairs and Constitutional Reforms Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe yesterday said in Parliament that stern legal action will be taken against those who were involved in the incident of insulting the Sacred Tooth Relic and the Dalada Maligawa. He said the corrupt individuals and groups who do not like the country coming back to normalcy are engaged in such deeds with hatred.

He pointed out that acting in a manner which harms the religious beliefs of individuals is an offence punishable by law with an imprisonment of 10 years. Clause 290 of the Penal Code recognizes this as an offence, he said.

The minister made these remarks in response to the comments made by the MPs in House requesting to take legal action against those who have insulted the Sacred Tooth Relic, yesterday.

The Justice Minister said the Sacred Tooth Relic is the pinnacle of the Buddhist Community all over the world. Therefore, nobody has a right to insult it. A similar incident was reported earlier when the Deputy Editor of a weekend English newspaper published an article insulting the Sacred Tooth Relic in 2003. After that, I expelled him from the position in my capacity as the then Managing Director. Then he sought the support of the courts. But, the court eventually decided that the decision taken by us was correct. Also, the people of this country have gone forward surpassing the politicians to set up religious and racial reconciliation. All the religions in this country are based on the principles of innocence and respecting others.

A person called Sepala Amarasinghe has blasphemously insulted the Sacred Tooth Relic. It has hurt the feelings of the Venerable Maha Sangha and the Buddhist community in the country. According to the constitution of this country, Amarasinghe has a right to introduce himself as an atheist. If he thinks that he is a mentally-handicapped person, we give him that right too. But as a government we very clearly stress that we would take legal action against this person who is attempting to create conflicts among religions in the country. This is an incident which can cause even a blood-bath in the country.

When a Sri Lankan was killed in Pakistan claiming that he had defamed the religion, Prime Minister Imran Khan enforced the law against the culprits strictly. “Even one or two people can completely destroy a country through religious opinions as they are as sensitive as that. If irresponsible people are attempting to create divisions in society in this manner, we are ready take stern action against them. We should accept the fact that the society has come forward today without any divisions. Majority of the people are of the view that this country should march ahead gradually. We are also in the process of establishing reconciliation in the country, even with the marginalised Tamil people of the North.

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