An arrest unwarranted
Despite the outcry that the picture was clearly a helm of a ship, the Mazahima was reremanded until June 3 under the ICCPR Act
Following a tip-off given by the people in Kolongoda, 47-year-old M. R Mazahima was arrested by the Hasalaka Police, last month, for wearing a caftan with a symbol that ‘resembled the Darmachakra’- the wheel of
Dhamma. The symbol on her dress was believed to have insulted Buddhism. She was initially remanded by the magistrate until May 27. Despite the outcry that the picture was clearly a helm of a ship,
the Mazahima was re-remanded until June 3 under the ICCPR Act. The police informed the court that the dress concerned had been sent to the Department of Buddhist Affairs to ascertain the identity of the symbol. When the case was taken up on June 3, Mazahima was granted bail and the next court date was fixed for November 4.
Mazahima is from a poverty stricken family and her husband is a mason who was working in Colombo at the time of her arrest. Mazahima had been on her way to withdraw money from a bank in Kolongoda, when people had noticed the dress and informed police. Later, the Hasalaka
Police arrested her, once she had returned home. According to her husband, Abdul
Munaf, Mazahima had been wearing the dress as a casual clothing for the past one and a half years. She had worn it and visited relatives in Welimada etc, but no one had questioned her previously. Speaking to the , Abdul
Munaf said that the incident was a grave injustice. “I became helpless and I feel depressed. We are upset that we got embroiled in something that we never expected nor intended,” he said.