Supporters of Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa were chased away by protesters in Jaffna after they attempted to disrupt a peaceful demonstration against the Sri Lankan government earlier today, with a Tamil woman pulling down a Sri Lankan flag that one of them was waving.
The Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), the opposition party, led a protest against the economic mismanagement of the current administration from the District Secretariat to the Central Bus Stand. Supporters of Rajapaksa had gathered near the bus stand and began to raise slogans in favour of the government.
However a tense situation arose as Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) member, Arun Siddharthan, arrived with his supporters to try and stop the protest. Even though there was a heavy deployment of police in the area in anticipation of hostilities, fistfights broke out and several individuals were injured.
Siddharthan and his supporters were hit with sandals and a wooden stick amidst the bedlam.
The opposition protest continued to denounce the government and the agitators as scuffles continued. The police attempted to escort the government-leaning protesters in a vehicle which the opposition then surrounded. The police faced much difficulty before they sent the vehicle away.
A Sri Lankan national flag that the pro-government figures carried was tossed away by locals who had confronted Siddharthan and was found abandoned under a bus once violence subsided. “Rather the Tiger flag than this,” remarked one passer by, referring to the national flag of Tamil Eelam.
Watch what happened to the Sri Lankan flag in Jaffna today. pic.twitter.com/3QWOuEUe0a
— Mario Arulthas (@MarioArul) April 1, 2022
The island has been embroiled in an economic crisis unprecedented in its independent history and the last few days have seen massive demonstrations against the government and its mishandling of the economy.