The Indian High Commission in Sri Lanka on Tuesday refuted local social media speculation that former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and his family members had fled to India, calling it “spurious and blatantly false”, a day after the patriarch of the powerful Rajapaksa family resigned as prime minister. Unprecedented anti-government protests.
“The High Commission has recently noticed rumors circulating in the media and social media sections that some political figures and their families have fled to India. These are false and blatantly false reports, devoid of any truth or substance. The High Commission vehemently denies them,” a statement said.
The whereabouts of Mahinda Rajapaksa is being speculated since his resignation on Monday. Mahinda was reported to have left his official residence, Temple Trees, early this morning.
In its first reaction to the situation in Sri Lanka, India said on Tuesday that it “fully supports” democracy, stability and economic recovery in the island nation.
“India will always be guided by the best interests of the people of Sri Lanka which are expressed through democratic processes,” External Affairs Ministry spokeswoman Arindam Bagshi said in New Delhi.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka’s chief civil aviation official on Tuesday dismissed social media speculation and asserted that he was not involved in the “unlawful transportation and removal of any person or persons from Sri Lanka”. Captain Themia Abiwikarama, Director General and CEO of the Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka, in a statement, described the social media reports as “false allegations”. He stressed that it “has no connection with the illegal transfer and deportation of any person or persons from Sri Lanka.” He also clarified that he did not threaten any license holder/pilot to interfere with the legal performance of flying duties.
Mahinda, 76, resigned as prime minister amid unprecedented economic turmoil in the country, hours after his supporters attacked anti-government protesters, prompting authorities to impose a nationwide curfew and deploy army forces in the capital. The attack sparked widespread violence against politicians loyal to Rajapaksa.
A group of protesters gathered around the naval base in the eastern Trincomalee port area, claiming Mahinda had taken refuge there.
Calls are growing for his arrest over his alleged incitement from a mob that attacked anti-government protesters calling for Rajapaksa’s family, including President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, to resign.
At least 8 people were killed and more than 250 people were injured in the clashes that also saw the burning of dozens of properties owned by ruling party politicians.
President Gotabaya urged the people to stop “violence and reprisals” against the citizens and vowed to tackle the political and economic crisis facing the nation as Sri Lanka is facing its worst economic crisis since it gained independence from Britain in 1948.
The crisis was caused in part by a shortage of foreign currency, which means the country cannot afford imports of basic foodstuffs and fuel, which has led to severe price shortages and skyrocketing prices.
Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets across Sri Lanka since April 9.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by the NDTV crew and is published from a syndicated feed.)