An individual at the center of a series of tragic events linked to his religious teachings and subsequent suspected suicides by poison.
Ruwan Prasanna Gunaratne, a religious preacher active in various parts of Sri Lanka, recently became the focus of a Criminal Investigation Department (CID) probe following a string of deaths suspected to be linked to his teachings. Gunaratne himself was found dead from poisoning and is believed to have committed suicide.
Background and Events Leading to Investigation
The investigation into Gunaratne’s activities and subsequent death began after several of his followers also died under similar circumstances. These events unfolded starting on December 28, 2023, in Makumbura, Kottawa, where Gunaratne, aged 46, was found dead from poison ingestion. Shortly thereafter, his wife and three children tragically followed suit, succumbing to the same poison.
Adding to this tragic chain of events, a 21-year-old woman in Yakkala and a 34-year-old man in Maharagama also died by poisoning. Investigations revealed that both individuals had attended the funeral of Gunaratne and his family, further linking their deaths to Gunaratne’s influence.
Gunaratne’s Ideology and Influence
Gunaratne was known for delivering lectures on religion across Sri Lanka. Reports suggest that in these sermons, he justified suicide, suggesting it was a means to transition quickly to the ‘next soul.’ This ideology seemingly influenced several individuals to tragically end their lives.
Police Investigation and Public Alert
The CID is conducting extensive investigations into these deaths. The police obtained a court order to investigate Gunaratne’s financial transactions, exploring the possibility of external funding for his activities. The public has been urged to exercise caution if family members have been exposed to Gunaratne’s teachings.