Lankans flee to India amid crisis


The newest arrivals to Indian shores said that they sold everything and paid Rs two lakh per family for the boat trip to India, a report by Rahul Kumara

With the worsening economic situation in the island nation, another 19 Sri Lankans arrived in Tamil Nadu on Sunday. With the latest arrival, the number of Sri Lankan economic refugees in India now stands at 39.

The newest arrivals to Indian shores said that they sold everything and paid Rs two lakh per family for the boat trip to India. Local shopkeepers offered food and water to the families. Local authorities have housed the refugees in the Mandapam camp as they expect more Sri Lankans to flee to India due to the food and fuel crisis.

The much-awaited talks between Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his former allies led by Maithripala Sirisena of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) on Sunday evening have neither brought rapprochement nor solutions to the sufferings of people.

Sirisena had approached Rajapaksa with a clear agenda–that the embattled President forms a new administration without his family members being part of it. The other part of the agenda was that this new administration would then propose solutions to the continuing inflation and shortage of food and essential supplies.

Rajapaksa’s party Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna had gained two-thirds power with support of allies in the 225-member legislature. The SLFP, including other allies, have withdrawn support to Rajapaksa and resigned from their ministerial berths but have not joined the opposition yet.

The country is in the grip of mass protests with people occupying the Galle Face seafront, close to the Secretariat, in Colombo. Over the past two weeks, angry protestors have also stormed the residences of President Rajapaksa and his brother Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Commenting on the unending protests, Sajith Premadasa, Head of the opposition party–Samagi Jana Balwegaya, said the protests are an organic uprising. He also thanked India for its support to the people in their time of adversity and appealed to the world to help his country.

Early last week the Speaker had warned that the country would face starvation if the political leaders do not find urgent solutions to the economic crisis which is now spiralling into a humanitarian crisis.

Today the country’s doctors warned that life-saving drugs are almost over in the island nation, which could cause further problems for the people who are already struggling to procure food and battling daily power cuts.

Worldwide protests

The Sri Lankan diaspora has intensified its protests across the world. Expat Sri Lankans have come out to protest against their government in some of the major cities in Australia, New Zealand, the UK and the US as life becomes tougher back home.

As the food and fuel crisis grows in the island nation, people have a single-point agenda — they want President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to go. Many believe that the Rajapaksas, one of the most prominent and powerful families in the country, who held the positions of the president, prime minister, finance minister, irrigation minister, sports minister and other governmental posts have brought ruin upon the country due to their policies.

Within Sri Lanka, protests continue unabated with people taking over the Galle seafront. The protesters have stayed put without a break even during the night. With the government unable to find solutions to the crisis owing to an almost depleted treasury, protesters too have hardened their stand.

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