India Favours Democracy as Sri Lanka Gives Emergency Powers to Military Amid Violent Protests
11:30 GMT 10.05.2022 (Updated: 10:43 GMT 19.07.2022)
At least seven people were killed and over 230 injured during clashes that erupted on Monday in Sri Lanka. Protesters are demanding the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa after Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa stepped down on Monday to pave the way for forming a unity government.
India has called for stability, supporting the democratic process in the “best interests of the people of Sri Lanka”, as the island nation continues to witness violent protests
for a second consecutive day over an unprecedented economic crisis.
Highlighting historical ties with its "close neighbour" Sri Lanka, the Indian Foreign Ministry said New Delhi is "fully supportive of its democracy, stability and economic recovery".
"In keeping with our Neighbourhood First policy, India has extended this year alone support worth over $3.5 billion to the people of Sri Lanka for helping them overcome their current difficulties", Arindam Bagchi, spokesperson for the Indian Foreign Ministry, said on Tuesday.
Indians have also assisted in mitigating shortages of essential items such as food and medicine, among other things.
India's cautious remarks come hours after the houses of several political leaders, including Mahinda Rajapaksa's
ancestral home, were torched by protesters on Monday night.
The military had to carry out a special rescue operation to save ex-PM Rajapaksa as thousands of protesters stormed his official residence in Colombo overnight, with police firing warning shots to deter the furious crowd.
As news spread over social media that Rajapaksa and his family members had taken shelter at the Eastern Command of the Sri Lankan Navy in Trincomalee, hundreds of protesters gathered outside the naval command office, urging the military to hand over Rajapaksa and his family to them.
Meanwhile, noticing blatant violations of the island-wide police curfew, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has given emergency powers to the military and police to detain people without a warrant amid violent clashes that have killed at least seven people, including a parliamentarian, and injured more than 230 people so far.
As per Tuesday's gazette notification, the military can detain anyone without a warrant for 24 hours and search property by force.
The economic woes, triggered by a lack of forex reserves,
have sparked one of the biggest political crises in the island nation of 22 million inhabitants. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa failed to halt the worsening forex reserve situation, forcing the country to face its first-ever default on foreign debt in April.
As the South Asian nation lacks foreign reserves, people have faced long queues to procure essential items such as food, fuel, and medicine.