A chaotic situation prevailed as the Joint Opposition demonstrated and staged a protest march demanding the resignation of Central Bank Governor Arjun Mahendran accused of a bond scam and for the cancellation of the recent tax hikes.
Its MPs, along with their supporters, assembled at the Lakehouse Junction and proceeded towards the Central Bank building shouting slogans.
However, the protest march was barricaded. The protesters broke through the first line barricade and tried to proceed.
Yet, they turned back after encountering the second line of barricade. Then, they took a detour to reach the Finance Ministry.
A large crowd of protestors led by MPs including Dinesh Gunawardena, Bandula Gunawardane, Wimal Weerawansa, Mahindananda Aluthgamage, Vasudeva Nanyakkara, C.B. Ratnayake, Janaka Bandara Tennakoon and many others headed towards the Finance Ministry. They sat on the Lotus Road outside the Finance Ministry entrance.
They urged the resignation of not only the CB governor but also the Finance Minister and the Prime Minister.
“We demand the resignations of the CB governor, Minister Ravi Karunanayake and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe for leading the country towards economic crisis. They should resign for imposing heavy taxes on the people as well,” MP Bandula Gunawardane said.
MP Wimal Weerawansa said they have launched the campaign to send the government home within this year and assured they will not back down until their target was achieved.
“The government is doing everything they can to silent MPs of the Joint Opposition. Our colleagues are being put in jail but nothing can prevent us from sending the government home and raising voice against the CB governor, who is responsible for the Bond Sale scam which had resulted in financial hardship today. The Premier had summoned the Auditor General and influenced him regarding the probe into Mr. Mahendran's case. We request the Auditor General to remain independent and assure that we will stand by him,” he said.
Joint Opposition Leader MP Dinesh Gunawardane said the power of the people could not be suppressed as they will continue to protest against Mahendran though a probe into the Bond Sale scam where an attempt is made for the issue to be swept under the carpet.
MP Namal Rajapaksa said the government cannot be trusted and it was not concerned about the people. He said the Premier was more concerned about the ‘Brexit’ than the issues faced by own people.
Two MPs injured
Joint Opposition MPs Rohitha Abeygunawardane and Sriyani Wijewickrama were hospitalised after they were injured during the protest when the barricades came down.
The pressure of the stampede was intensified pushing the MPs leading the protest against the barricades on Bank of Ceylon Mawatha. The barricades came down and the MPs headed towards the Central Bank.
However, MP Abeygunawardane was seen struck between two iron rods of a barricade. Soon after another barricade fell on top of his head and he was rushed to a private hospital by MP Johnston Fernando.
MP Johnston Fernando told the media gathered at the private hospital where the injured MP was receiving treatment that the government attempted to crush their protest by putting barricades.
“Our peaceful protest was blocked by the government which resulted in MPs ending up in hospital. Rohitha was unconscious for a while and his condition is somewhat serious,” he said and added MP Abeygunawardane was about to undergo an MRI scan.
He said the scan report will say more about the condition of the injured MP who was admitted to the ICU.
Meanwhile, Chief Nursing of the National Hospital, Pushpa Ramyani Soyza said MP Sriyani Wijewickrama was conscious and undergoing treatment for a knee injury. (Lahiru Pothmulla)