Detective journalist busts doctorate racket

By Leon Berenger

An undercover journalist from the Sunday Times busted a multi-million rupee scam involving the sale of doctorates by a group of Buddhist monks and a layman at a Temple in Kandy earlier this week. It all began after a member of the group approached our Dambulla Provincial Correspondent, Kanchana Kumara Ariyadasa and offered him a doctorate in return for Rs. 200,000. They said the cash was needed for a cloak, scroll and photographs and also for payments to six monks.

Journalist Kanchana

A member of the group told our correspondent he deserved a doctorate for the public service he had done through the print and electronic media. Mr. Ariyadasa readily agreed to accept the offer and told the man to go ahead and make the arrangements for him to receive the doctorate soon. But he had other things on his mind.

So when the day was set the correspondent drove to Kandy where he was directed to a studio. There he was handed over the cloak and other garments that are worn before receiving a doctorate. Later he was photographed.

Thereafter the journalist was taken to another location in the Kandy town where he met a layman identified as S. A. Kariyawasam who directed him to keep the cash in six separate envelopes to be given to the Buddhist Monks.

Later Mr. Ariyadasa was taken to a Buddhist Temple in Mahaiyawa. There he met the chief incumbent who identified himself as Ven. Indrajothi Wansanlankara Maldeniya Vajirana who later handed over the certificate. The correspondent was instructed to give the envelopes containing the cash to a courier who was waiting farther up the road and away from the temple.

The envelopes were later handed over as instructed and our correspondent made a quick getaway. Soon his mobile began to buzz and the caller at the other end was furious. This was understandable. The envelopes did not contain a single rupee but they were neatly packed with tender jak leaves.

Later in the night our correspondent was offered a valuable Valampuri (Conchshell). This came despite an assurance by the Higher Education Ministry that it was preparing a policy framework that would prevent bogus education institutions from granting qualifications.

The Ministry also banned 10 such education institutions from giving bogus doctorates and degrees. The decision to ban the institutions was taken following recommendations by a Cabinet sub-committee appointed to look into the matter.

They were the Sri Lanka Vishwa Samadhi Foundation, Jathika Sammaana Upadhi Sarasavi Aayathanaya, Sri Jayawardenapura Commemoration Foundation (Battaramulla), Dharmapala Olcott Commemoration Foundation,International University for Alternative Medicine, Sri Jayawardenapura Lanka National Cultural Foundation, Multi National Peace Organisation, All Communities United Organisation, Samaja Subha Saadhana Acharya Upadhi Aayathanaya and Saamadhaana Vinishvayakara Maanava Himikam Sanvidhaanaya

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