Mar 15, Colombo: The massive protest organized by Sri Lanka’s Opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) against the government held in capital Colombo this afternoon (15) drew massive crowds from various parts of the country.
The rally following the march was led by the Leader of the Opposition Sajith Premadasa opposite the Presidential Secretariat under the theme "The country ruined - enough tolerating’ to protest the unbearable cost of living, the shortage of fertilizers in the country, the fuel and gas crisis and the pressures faced by the people including power cuts.
The protest march, which kicked off near the Viharamahadevi Park in Colombo this afternoon, was attended by a large number of people including farmers, fishermen, public servants, trade union representatives, civil society representatives and political party activists. A similar crowd stood on both sides of the road to encourage the protesters.
The protesters displaying placards and chanting slogans gathered around the Library roundabout at around 2 pm and marched to Presidential Secretariat. Another protest march reached the Presidential Secretariat from the P.D. Sirisena Ground in Maligawatte via Panchikawatte, Maradana and Lotus Road.
The road opposite the Presidential Secretariat at Galle Face was completely blocked and traffic on the surrounding roads was completely paralyzed by the protest march.
The protesters wore black bands saying "Gota Go Home" and carried several coffins displaying “economy of the man with seven brains” wreaths, empty plates, effigies of the President, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance, gas tanks, rice bags, etc.
Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa, Party Chairman Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka, General Secretary Ranjith Madduma Bandara and other parliamentarians joined the protest at around 3.00 pm.
Large police security was also seen deployed for the protest. Demonstrators tried to enter the Presidential Secretariat, saying they wanted to raise public concerns, and security forces, including the Special task Force Police, tried to prevent them, causing a heated situation.
The protesters later set fire to the coffins on the road in front of the Presidential Secretariat.
General Secretary of Samagi Jana Balawegaya Ranjith Madduma Bandara, Chairman Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka, National Organizer Tissa Attanayake, Chief of Operations Harin Fernando, Treasurer Harsha de Silva, Media Spokespersons M. Marikkar, Manusha Nanayakkara, Samagi Jana Balawegaya party leaders Patali Champika Ranawaka, Dr. Rajitha Senaratne, P. Digambaram, Rauf Hakeem, MPs Nalin Bandara, Eran Wickramaratne, Kavinda Jayawardena, Mujibur Rahman, Harshana Rajakaruna and Sujith Sanjaya Perera joined in the protest.
Representatives of Samagi Youth Force, Samagi Vanitha Balawegaya, Public Service Samagi Trade Union Federation, civil society organizations and many other organizations were present at the event.