Kandy, July 7: Muslims in the Sri Lankan town of Kandy remain on the edge as Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), the hardline Buddhist group accused of orchestrating attacks against minorities, has convened to decide on whom to back in the upcoming presidential elections. Easter Bombings Probe: NIA Shares Numbers of 5 Sri Lankan ISIS Suspects
Nearly 10,000 clergymen have convened in Kandy, along with the head of BBS - Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara for stoking violence against the Muslim community last year.
Gnanasara is scheduled to deliver the keynote address at the Buddhist convention. The influential godman has dismissed apprehensions raised by the media, saying that the clergymen have not united to spread hatred against any community.
The aim of the convention, he said, is aimed at choosing a presidential candidate who could safeguard the interests of the Buddhist Sinhalese community -- who form 70 per cent of the country's population. The remaining 30 per cent is formed by ethnic Tamils, comprising of Hindus, Muslims and Christians.
"Today, the Sinhala ethnicity, which has developed this country historically, has become very weak...There is no leader who holds responsibility for Sinhalese," he said. Notably, the presidential polls are slated for later this year.
Thousands of police personnel have been deployed in Kandy to prevent breakdown of law and order. The Army has also been asked to remain on standby.
This is the first ever convention of BBS following the deadly terror attacks carried out by ISIS in April this year, which claimed the lives of over 250 people.