Hardline Buddhist group accused in anti-Muslim riots in Lanka to float political party

Colombo: A hardline Sinhala-Buddhist group in Sri Lanka, which was allegedly involved in attacks on Muslims during the recent communal riots in the country, has decided to float a political party.

Mahason Balakaya or the Devil Mahasona’s Force, which had allegedly published videos of hate speech against Muslims, said it has forwarded papers to the authorities for the party’s registration.

“Sinhalese have got no political party while every race has one. We have decided to form a new political party with Mahason Balakaya and several other Sinhala organisations,” a spokesman for the group said in the north central town of Anuradhapura.

Mahason Balakaya was accused in arson attacks on Muslims, their religious sites and properties during the communal violence between majority Sinhala Buddhists and minority Muslims in the island’s central hills Kandy and Ampara districts.

The communal violence was triggered by the death of a Sinhalese man at the hands of a mob.

The government had imposed a state of emergency and blocked Facebook, WhatsApp and other social media sites following the riots in which three people were killed and hundreds of Muslim-owned properties, including mosques, were damaged.

Nearly 300 people, including a senior leader of Mahason Balakaya, were arrested during the riots.

Violence has risen in the Buddhist-majority country since 2012, with some hardline Buddhist groups accusing Muslims of forcing people to convert to Islam and vandalising Buddhist archaeological sites.

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