After weeks of suffering from a terrible economic crisis, residents in Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo, erupted in protest late Thursday evening. More than 5,000 protestors marched outside the president’s mansion in the Sri Lankan capital, demanding his resignation, and battled with the police.
The Special Task Force, a paramilitary police group, was called in to quell the protests. Earlier in the day, protests outside Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s residence became violent, hurting at least 10 people, including journalists.
Six people were taken to the Colombo National Hospital with injuries after clashes between demonstrators and police in Mirihana. Protesters set fire to a bus belonging to the Sri Lanka Army and a vehicle. In addition, the police have enforced a curfew in some neighborhoods of Colombo.
Four more patients were admitted to the Colombo South Teaching Hospital in Kalubowila, according to the Daily Mirror. According to the Daily Mirror, which quoted medical sources, all of the injured victims were men, including numerous journalists. ‘A police curfew has been enforced with immediate effect inside the Colombo North, Colombo South, Colombo Central, and Nugegoda Police Divisions till further notice,’ stated the Inspector General of Police.
Sri Lanka’s economy has been in free fall since the COVID-19 outbreak due to the collapse of the tourism sector. Sri Lanka is now suffering from a foreign exchange deficit, which has resulted in fuel, power, and gas shortages, and has sought economic aid from friendly nations. Every day, at least 10 hours of power interruption occur in Sri Lanka.
Since March 8, the Sri Lankan rupee has dropped by more than SLR 90 against the US dollar. Power Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi told reporters that the government is shutting down street lights to preserve electricity, as a continued fuel scarcity caused further power outages and suspended trade on the major stock exchange.
The power outages exacerbate the suffering of Sri Lankans who are already battling with food shortages and skyrocketing costs. Retail inflation was 18.7 percent in March compared to the same time a year earlier, according to the statistics agency on Thursday. Food inflation reached 30.2 percent in March, fueled in part by a currency depreciation and a restriction on chemical fertilizers that was later lifted.