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Amidst Civil Unrest: Not Again!

It is often said that Rajiv Gandhi, the former Prime Minister of India, had to sacrifice his life for sending the Peace Keeping Force to neighbouring Sri Lanka, in 1987. The Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) was a Indian military contingent performing a peacekeeping operation in the island nation between 1987 and 1990, as it was formed under the mandate of the 1987 Indo-Sri Lankan Accord that aimed to end the Sri Lankan Civil War between Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a Sri Lankan Tamil militant group, and the Sri Lankan Army.

Although the tiny South Asian nation is currently going through political and economic turmoil, the Narendra Modi Administration in New Delhi has decided not to send forces to Colombo this time.

Courtesy: Hindustan Times

In the wake of the widespread violence in Sri Lanka, former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and his family members took refuge at a naval base in Trincomalee on May 10 (2022) after leaving Colombo under heavy security. Later on, a rumour was spread that the Rajapaksa family took refuge in India. As expected, such a rumour triggered anger among the islanders. On May 11, the Indian High Commission in Colombo said in a tweet that no Sri Lankan politician took refuge in India.

Courtesy: Hindustan Times

On May 11, another rumour was spread that India was all set to send Armed Forces to Sri Lanka. The Indian Ministry of External Affairs immediately rejected the claim, saying that New Delhi would not send the Army to Colombo. India believes that peace and stability would return to Sri Lanka in a democratic manner, added the ministry. Later, Defence Secretary of Sri Lanka General Kamal Gunaratne confirmed that Mahinda Rajapakse and his family were safe at the naval base.

Courtesy: Hindustan Times

Meanwhile, Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa decided to continue curfew in the country in order to bring the situation under control. He also requested his countrymen to remain calm, and to maintain communal harmony. Reports suggest that the Government of Sri Lanka deployed Army tanks and patrolling vehicles in all major cities, including Colombo, in order to protect public properties and civilians. The Defence Ministry issued a separate statement, stressing that it instructed the Army, Air Force and Navy to remain alert for any untoward situation.

Courtesy: Hindustan Times

On May 9-10, angry anti-Government protesters set at least 41 vehicles on fire, while 136 incidents of looting were reported. Protesters also attacked residences of quite a few leaders of the Ruling Party. Protesters believe that Mahinda Rajapaksa allowed China to ruin the Sri Lankan economy. Meanwhile, the UN expressed serious concern over the current political situation in Sri Lanka, saying that the Government should try to restore peace as early as possible.

Courtesy: Hindustan Times

Soon after Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned from the post of Prime Minister, the speaker of the Sri Lankan Parliament said that the House would be convened in a few days to choose a new PM. However, parties in Opposition have made it clear that they would not join the Interim Government as proposed by the President. The Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), Sri Lanka’s largest Opposition party, announced that no members of the Rajapaksa family should be there in the Interim Government. In such a scenario, Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) Dr P Nandalal Weerasinghe gave President Gotabaya Rajapaksa two weeks time to resolve the crisis, saying that otherwise, he would resign. The President assured the Central Bank governor that he would soon form a new Cabinet and there would be no members of the Rajapaksa family in it.

Courtesy: Hindustan Times

Although India is closely monitoring the changing political situation in Sri Lanka, New Delhi has decided not to interfere in the internal matters of the neighbouring country.

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