Sri Lanka Crisis: President Rajapaksa Resigns, Heavy Clashes, One MP Of Ruling Party Dead

As Sri Lanka is going through its worst ever economic crisis, thousands of protesters had defied curfew to attack government figures, setting ablaze homes, shops and businesses belonging to ruling party lawmakers and provincial politicians. Amidst such crisis, the emergency powers have been given to the military and police to detain the people without warrants, notably after a day of clashes that killed seven people and injured more than 200, in violence between the anti and pro-government protestors. 

Sri Lanka’s Attorney General on Tuesday asked the police chief to conduct an urgent and full-fledged investigation into the violent clashes, which erupted on Monday after supporters of former prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa attacked peaceful anti-government protesters demanding his ouster over the country’s worst economic crisis that led to acute shortages of staple food, fuel and power.

Protesters swarmed the entrance to President Gotabaya Rajapaksas office in the capital, Colombo, for the 32nd day, demanding him to follow in his brother’s footsteps and quit. The site outside Rajapaksas office has seen sustained crowds of thousands for weeks, but had dropped to a few hundred due to a strict curfew, following clashes yesterday that left four dead. Defying a nationwide curfew in Sri Lanka, a few hundred protesters continued to chant slogans against the government on Tuesday, a day after violent clashes saw the resignation of the prime minister who is blamed, along with his brother, the president, for leading the country into its worst economic crisis in decades. 

On the other hand, heavily armed troops evacuated outgoing Sri Lankan prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa from his official residence in Colombo on Tuesday when thousands of protesters breached the main gate. Protesters who forced their way into the capital’s “Temple Trees” residence then attempted to storm the main two-storey building where Rajapaksa was holed up with his immediate family. 

As per the report of the Times of India, “After a pre-dawn operation, the former PM and his family were evacuated to safety by the army,” a top security official told AFP. “At least 10 petrol bombs were thrown into the compound.”

Meanwhile, the ruling party MP Amarakeerthi Athukorala lost his life after a standoff with anti-government protesters in the town of Nittambuwa near Colombo. At least three others were wounded and the area remained tense with dozens of protesters still at the location. The ancestral home of the Rajapaksas in Hambantota was set on fire by a group of anti-government protestors, hours after Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned in response to the mounting demand for his ouster as Sri Lanka’s prime minister. The protesters had also destroyed several properties of ministers and lawmakers of the ruling coalition.

India has underlined the ‘Neighbourhood first’ policy over the matter of Sri Lanka. “In keeping with our Neighbourhood First Policy, India has extended this year alone support worth over US$ 3.5 billion to the people of Sri Lanka for helping them overcome their current difficulties. In addition, the people of India have provided assistance for mitigating the shortages of essential items such as food, medicine etc.” Arindam Bagchi, spokesperson, Ministry of external affairs said in a statement.

“India will always be guided by the best interests of the people of Sri Lanka expressed through democratic processes,” the statement further said.

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