Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen lodged a complaint at Cinnamon Garden Police on Saturday against the National Sanga Council for making false accusations against him.
Bathiudeen demanded Rs. 1 billion as compensation from the National Sanga Council and its Secretary Ven. Pahiyangala Ananda Sagara thera, if they fail to prove the charges made against him.
A spokesman for the minister told the Daily News yesterday, the complaint was made against two allegations by the Council, that Minister Bathiudeen was involved in the destruction and illegal occupation of forest land in Wilpattu National Park and that he was engaged in the drug business.
The spokesman said the minister refuted these charges as false and baseless.
He had requested the Police to investigate these allegations.
“These allegations are serious, and if they were not proved the minister will send a letter of demand for the damages caused to his image,” he said.
The National Sanga Council had made these allegations, while taking part in a protest near the Viharamahadevi Park on Saturday against the destruction of Wilpattu forest land. Environment Conservation Trust Director Sajeewa Chamikara said about 15 environmental organisations took park in the protest in addition to the National Sanga Council.
“Altogether about 600 people participated in the protest which commenced at 9.30 a.m. The aim was to rally people against the deforestation of Wilpattu and urge the government to stop it. Evironmental organisations did not make any reference to the drug business, the said allegation was made by the Sanga Council. As of now, we were not informed of any police complaint or legal action against us,” he said. Members of environmental organisations who took part in the protest pointed out that even though the encroachment near Wilpattu slowed down for a few months, it had now gathered pace again.
The collective of environmental organisations is also to start a campaign to collect one million signatures to save Wilpattu