By Dharisha Bastians
A group of monks claiming to be from the hard-line Bodu Bala Sena group raided a Colombo Municipal Council run slaughterhouse in Dematagoda early last morning, charging that it was illegally slaughtering calves and distributing inferior quality meat to sellers in Colombo.
Police Spokesman SSP Buddhika Siriwardane said the monks had been under the impression that illegal slaughtering was taking place on the premises.
However, speaking to Daily FT, Chief Municipal Veterinary Surgeon Dr. Vipula Dharmawardane said that although the Dematagoda slaughterhouse had been established in 1865, the premises functioned as a distribution centre for meat transported from other parts of the country. Dr. Dharmawardane said that the meat was inspected by the CMC veterinary team as being suitable for consumption, licensed and dispatched to hotels and shops around the city.
“Slaughter of cattle is banned within the precincts of Colombo city, so this is a distribution centre only,” he said.
Police said the monks had arrived at the slaughterhouse on Baseline Road at around 6 a.m. yesterday and CMC officials thought the situation was becoming tense.
According to Dr. Dharmawardane the monks were claiming that the facility’s freezers were broken and that meat was lying at the premises from early morning to midday before distribution. “I have been with the CMC for 25 years. In all that time, there have been no cases of meat getting rotten at these premises,” Dharmawardane said.
He said the CMC officials had allowed the monks to inspect licenses and receipts to prove the operation was completely lawful.
Dr. Dharmawardane said that cattle slaughter was still legal in the country, despite the cultural sensitivities about the issue and the meat arriving in Dematagoda often came from Sinhalese farmers in other parts of the country.
Police said the issue had been resolved and the monks vacated by midmorning.
In January, a group of Bodu Bala Sena monks stormed a tourist hotel down south, claiming there was a ‘Buddha Bar’ on the premises.