Pro-Rajapaksa mob assaults peaceful protesters

Police have imposed an island-wide curfew with immediate effect.

Updated - May 09, 2022 03:09 pm IST

Published - May 09, 2022 02:34 pm IST - COLOMBO

Demonstrators and government supporters clash outside the President’s office in Colombo on May 9, 2022.

Demonstrators and government supporters clash outside the President’s office in Colombo on May 9, 2022. | Photo Credit: AFP

A Pro-Rajapaksa mob on Monday attacked protesters agitating peacefully outside the Sri Lankan Prime Minister’s residence and President’s office, despite heavy police presence amid an Emergency that came into effect on Friday. Police have imposed an island-wide curfew with immediate effect.

The development comes as anti-government protests swell in Sri Lanka, in the wake of an unprecedented economic crisis for which protesting citizens blame the ruling Rajapaksa brothers. Local media reported that dozens were injured in the clashes provoked by government sympathisers, who demolished tents put up by protesters, and physically assaulted them with poles. Leader of Opposition Sajith Premadasa, who visited the spot, was attacked. 

Earlier on Monday morning, hundreds gathered at Temple Trees, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa’s official residence. They chanted slogans expressing support to their beleaguered leader who, along with his younger brother President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, is at the centre of anti-government protests in the island that is facing a grave economic crash, marked by acute food, fuel and cooking gas shortages. “I am prepared to make any sacrifice for the people,” Mr. Mahinda told his supporters, hours before pro-government groups triggered violence, first outside the PM’s home and later at the sea-side tent city ‘Gota go gama’ or ‘Gota go village’ set up by demonstrators a month ago. Police unleashed tear gas and water cannons after tensions escalated but were unable to prevent the violence. 

Mr. Mahinda made the remarks a day after visiting a famed Buddhist temple in Anuradhapura, where a group of protesters lined the road and booed as he passed by — a scene that was, until recently, unthinkable in any Sinhala-speaking area in the island, where the ethnic majority has hailed as “war victor”, since his government defeated the LTTE in 2009. But in crisis-hit Sri Lanka, the Rajapaksa brothers have become the most hated political figures, even by many who backed them in the 2019 and 2020 presidential and general elections, contributing to their thumping majority in both.  Three different opinion polls conducted recently by Colomb-based think tanks and research organisations showed that over 90 % of respondents, across districts, ethnicities, religions, disapproved of the Rajapaksas and wanted them to quit.  

The country’s economic situation remains dire, with less than $50 million in foreign reserves, amounting to barely a fourth of Sri Lanka’s monthly import bill. The Cabinet is scheduled to meet Monday afternoon, amid speculation over possible resignations. 

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.