Sri Lanka police secure court orders to quell anti-government rally
The move, police officials said, was necessitated because the Samagi Jana Balawegaya was planning to hold the protest without seeking prior approval.
COLOMBO: Sri Lanka Police said they have received court orders to quell a major anti-government protest to be organised by the main opposition party, the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), here on Tuesday against inflation and acute shortage of essential items.
So far, orders were obtained from the Colombo Fort Magistrate's Court, the Colombo Chief Magistrate's Court and the suburban Mount Lavinia magistrate courts respectively, police officials said.
The move, police officials said, was necessitated because the SJB was planning to hold the protest without seeking prior approval from the Director General of Health Services and adhering to the COVID-19 protocols.
However, the SJB remains steadfast, and insists that the protest will be held as per schedule on Tuesday.
The rally will commence from the Hyde Park region in central Colombo, with protesters joining in from other parts of the country.
SJB leaders said the protest was against the Sri Lankan government's apathy towards inflation and the acute shortage of essential items.
"We will stage our protest to highlight the unbearable cost of living, the shortages of almost all essential items," SJB parliamentarian SM Marikkar said.
The event, which is stated to be the first major show of protest against the ruling Mahinda Rajapaksa government that assumed power in August 2020, is expected to draw more than 10,000 participants.
Last week, the Sri Lankan government had announced a new set of COVID-19 regulations to limit the quantum of public gatherings.
But SJB members believe this was done to quash their protest.
"The government has got scared of our democratic protest action to prevent it through court action," senior SJB parliamentarian Rajitha Senaratne told reporters.
Sri Lanka has reported 548, 061 confirmed cases and 13,927 deaths since the coronavirus broke out in February 2020.