Two parties that involved in the dispute over an alleged attack on a prayer centre in Anuradhapura have been summoned to Anuradhapura Magistrate Court today, police said.
According the police, a group of youth staged a protest when the Methodist Church Bishop Asiri Perera visited a prayer centre in Anuradhapura on last Sunday when Palm Sunday prayers were performed. Bishop Perera relating the incident said that he and 12 worshippers were locked in at the premises. The incident was brought under control with the intervention of the police.
Bishop Perera had lodged a complaint to Anuradhapura police on Sunday over pelting stones and lighting firecrackers during the prayers.
“When I went to the church centre on 14 April a group of youth surrounded my vehicle, although I tried to wish them for New Year their reaction was not pleasant. However I entered the premises to continue the service,” Bishop Perera told reporters yesterday at Methodist Church in Colombo.
According to him the group of youth had attacked the church centre with stones and firecrackers and later gate was locked from the outside to prevent them leaving the premises, the Bishop said adding that they were escorted out of the church by the police about 30 minutes later. “There was one particular woman who lives next to the centre. She was the one who led the gang to attack us on Sunday,” he said.
According to Bishop Perera the centre has been subjected to multiple attacks in the recent past. He claimed the woman that lives next to the centre had been complaining that Church services were disturbing her as it was too loud. However, Bishop Perera claimed the Centre had not used loudspeakers or any a form of sound amplifiers during the services. He pointed out the centre functions to help disabled people in the area but has a separate room used for prayers.
“The Sunday attack was not an isolated incident, there were many incidents during the past few months. There was another incident on 31 March. During that incident stones were pelted,” he claimed.
Bishop Perera charged that police had failed to take action against the 31 March mob and failed to arrest any suspects over the incident.
“Police inaction is the major problem we have. When a Christian goes to lodge a complaint sometimes they are not even willing to take down the complaint. Are they trying to protect a certain segment of society? I cannot understand why they cannot immediately take actions in an incident like this,” he charged.
He claimed that a local politician was involved in the mob on 31 March, but the police has also failed to take any action against him.
“There was municipal councillor who headed the gang on 31 March. It is obvious they are doing this to please somebody or a certain group of people,” he claimed.
However, police said the dispute on 31 March was settled and the incident on Sunday will also be settled at the Anuradhapura Magistrate today.
By Nuwan Senarathna & Pix by Sameera Wijesinghe.