Protesters demanding the resignation of Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Saturday entered his official residence in Colombo after putting down the barricades.
Police used tear gas and water cannons and opened fire to disperse protesters on Saturday morning to prevent protesters from entering, but they entered the President's House after putting down the barricades. Tens of thousands of protesters broke police barriers blocking the President’s House.
However, Gotabaya had already vacated the premises before the protests began in Colombo. He was using the President’s House as his residence and office since protesters came to occupy the entrance to his office in early April.
At least 30 persons, including two police officers, were injured during ongoing protests and were admitted to the National Hospital in Colombo.
Gotabaya has been facing calls for resignation for months as protesters blame he, his ruling Rajapaksa family, and his government for the worst financial crisis that Sri Lanka is in at the moment. Earlier, Gotabaya's brother Rajapaksa had to resign as prime minister.
The protesters also clashed with the railway authorities at provincial towns of Galle, Kandy, and Matara as the demonstrators forced authorities to operate trains to Colombo. Large contingents of police, special task force, and the Army had been deployed around the area.
The organisers of the movement ‘Whole country to Colombo’ said people were walking from the suburbs to join the protesters at Colombo Fort. They said they won’t relent until Rajapaksa quits the presidency.
Sri Lankan Police had earlier in the day lifted the curfew imposed in seven divisions in the country’s Western Province, including Colombo, ahead of the planned anti-government protests, after coming under sustained pressure from top lawyers’ associations, human rights groups, and political parties.
The curfew was imposed in seven police divisions in the Western Province, which included Negombo, Kelaniya, Nugegoda, Mount Lavinia, Colombo North, Colombo South, and Colombo Central with effect from 9 pm on Friday night until further notice, police said.
"People living in the areas where police curfew had been enforced should strictly limit themselves to their houses and law would be enforced severely against those violating curfew," the Inspector General of Police (IGP) C. D. Wickramaratne announced on Friday.
The Bar Association of Sri Lanka protested the police curfew, terming it “illegal and a violation of fundamental rights”.
It said, "Such curfew is blatantly illegal and a violation of the fundamental rights of the people of our country who are protesting against President Gotabaya Rajapakse and his Government over its failure to protect their basic rights."
(With PTI inputs)