India, SL slam rumours of Indian troops in island

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The photographs of Indian troops in Sri Lanka taken during 2021’s Sri Lanka-India joint military exercise ‘Mitra Shakti’ have been released along with the fake news.

Sri Lankan military and Indian High Commission have denied the claims that Indian troops have entered the island nation amid the growing crisis, with people taking to streets against the government.

Defence Secretary Kamal Gunaratne on Saturday denied reports of the arrival of Indian troops which had been circulated on social media and added that the fake news contained official photographs of 2021’s friendly India-Sri Lanka joint military exercise.

The photographs of Indian troops in Sri Lanka taken during 2021’s Sri Lanka-India joint military exercise ‘Mitra Shakti’ have been released along with the fake news, Gunaratne said.

“Sri Lanka’s tri-forces are capable of facing any situation to ensure national security and people should not be misguided by such misinformation,” the Defence Secretary added.

The Indian High Commission issuing a statement denied the alleged news.

“The High Commission strongly denies blatantly false and completely baseless reports in a section of media that India is dispatching its soldiers to Sri Lanka,” it announced.

Troubled by public agitation on streets and ahead of planned Sunday’s major island-wide protest, Sri Lankan government imposed a 36-hour long curfew from Saturday 6 p.m.

A gazette which was issued “in accordance with the powers vested in the Head of State,” the President under the Public Security Ordinance prohibited people from being on any public road, park, recreation or other grounds, railways, sea shores and other such public places during the curfew from Saturday 6 p.m. to Monday 6 a.m.

On Saturday until the curfew was imposed people gathered at places around the capital Colombo and outstation demanding President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to resign.

On Thursday evening a public protest near the President’s house turned violent with police attacking people and later arrested more than 50 of them. Some were released on bail while others were remanded.

Both the police personnel and people were injured while a bus and several other vehicles which belonged to police were set on fire.

SL looks to reduce power cuts

Reliving thousands of those waiting in queues at fuel stations around the country and those hit by 13-hour-long power cuts, 40,000 MT of diesel under the Indian Line of Credit of $500 million arrived at the Colombo harbour on Saturday.

As the shipment arrived, the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) announced that 13-hour power cuts would now be reduced to nearly 2 hours from Sunday.

Sri Lanka’s power generation mainly depends on fuel and all except two plants have been shut down due to lack of diesel. For days, the country’s economy has been suffering due to lack of transportation of goods, while mechanised farming and fishing have come to a standstill with no diesel in the fuel stations.

The fourth consignment under the fuel Line of Credit from India followed three previous deliveries on March 16, 20 and 23. Over the last 50 days, India has supplied Sri Lanka nearly 200,000 MT including a consignment of 40,000 MT by Indian Oil Corporation outside the line of credit facility in February 2022.

“In view of the urgent nature of Sri Lanka’s requirement, India worked overtime to expeditiously finalise and implement both the lines of credit within weeks,” the Indian High Commission said.

Indian High Commissioner Gopal Baglay, who visited the Colombo harbour, observed that the fuel deliveries is a concrete manifestation of India’s commitment to the people of Sri Lanka in the current circumstances in line with its ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy.

Sri Lanka’s Energy Minister Gamini Lokuge, who visited the harbour to welcome the shipment, thanked India for helping at a critical moment.

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