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Sunday, 10 February 2013





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Government Gazette

Land dispute ends in gruesome killing of Bhikkhu

The peaceful atmosphere was shattered last Sunday when a group of people armed with swords and knives stormed the Sunnandopananda Vihara at Egodauyana, Moratuwa and stabbed the chief incumbent Ven. Matigahatenne Wimalawansa Thera several times mercilessly.

When neighbours rushed to the temple on hearing the screams of the Bhikkhu, the suspects had fled. They found the Bhikkhu lying in a pool of blood in the compound with multiple cut injuries on his body.

They could not believe for a moment what exactly happened to the chief incumbent. However, other Bhikkhus witnessed the gruesome stabbing. The slain Bhikkhu had a dispute with the squatters who occupied the temple land.

The chief incumbent was rushed to the Moratuwa hospital but was pronounced dead on admission. The land dispute erupted in a serious manner last Sunday when the squatters stormed the temple around 2.30 p.m. and assaulted a Bhikkhu following a heated argument with him. Ven. Wimalawansa Thera who heard the commotion rushed to the place after ringing the temple bell repeatedly.

When people in the vicinity rushed to the temple the attackers fled the scene threatening bodily harm to the chief incumbent. However, the other Bhikkhus identified some of the suspects who assaulted the chief incumbent. Around 7 p.m.on the same day the same group of suspects led by Sujith and Randira stormed the temple and threatened to kill the chief incumbent.

The group consisted of 15 suspects who appeared to be intoxicated. They were armed with swords and knives. Frightened by the death threats levelled against them, the chief incumbent Wimalawansa Thera and the other Bhikkhus went to the Moratuwa police station and made a complaint.


The chief incumbent and other Bhikkhus were on their way back to the temple around 8.45 p.m. after being assured by a neighbour that the unruly crowd had dispersed and there was no threat to their lives. But no sooner their car entered the temple premises a group of people armed with swords and knives surrounded it and pulled out the driver and assaulted him mercilessly.

Thereafter they pulled out the chief incumbent and disrobed him. At this point the chief incumbent tried to run towards the temple.

He slipped and fell on the ground. When the mob finally caught up with him they hacked him with knives. After inflicting severe injuries the mob fled away.

The autopsy conducted at the Panadura hospital revealed that there were 98 stab injuries on the Bhikkhu's body.

Police said the chief incumbent had lodged seven complaints against the squatters who lived in the temple land and harassment.

The squatters too had made three counter complaints against the chief incumbent Ven. Wimalawansa Thera. The Moratuwa police investigated the complaints and counter complaints and referred them to the Mediation Board for settlement. But some cases have been referred to the District Court for adjudication.

The tussle between the Sunandopananda Temple and squatters began following the acquisition of the land by the temple which the squatters had occupied in 1994.

However, when Ven. Wimalawansa Thera became the chief incumbent about five years ago he took a hard line towards the squatters.

He did not show any mercy to them and went all out to have them evicted from the temple land although they had occupied the land for 50 years.

The move, however, antagonised the squatters and soon they were at each others throat.

Even before the chief incumbent was stabbed the squatters had threatened him with bodily harm.

There were also frequent quarrels between the two parties. Following the assassination of Ven. Wimalawansa Thera, people in Egodauyana became restive and began demolishing the homes of the suspects.

Moratuwa police were on the trail of two suspects, Sujeewa Guneratne (40) and Randima Fernando (29). However, before dawn their bodies were found dumped near a paddy field at Moronthuduwa with gun shot injuries.

Both men had been shot in their heads. It was also revealed that Sujeewa Guneratne was a supporter of the Deputy Mayor of Moratuwa.


The Moratuwa police under the supervision of SSP Mount Lavinia Division Ravindra Karawita probed the assassination of Matigahatenne Wimalawansa Thera.

Later the Colombo Crime Division (CCD) under the supervision of its Director SSP D.R.L. Ranaweera took over the investigation and arrested the Deputy Mayor of Moratuwa.

It was further revealed that Sujeewa Guneratne and Randima Fernando had been involved in the drug trade for some time.

The Colombo Crime Division has arrested eight suspects linked to the assassination of the chief incumbent and have found the three wheeler bearing number AA 3376 used by them. They also recovered the three knives allegedly used by the assassins.

The knives along with the robes of the chief incumbent were found in a water tank of a house at Panadura. Among the suspects taken into custody were two men from the Grandpass area, police said.


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