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Sri Lankan students at the South Asian University in New Delhi

University students in New Delhi protest political crisis in Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan students at the South Asian University in New Delhi held a silent protest against the ouster of Ranil Wickremesinghe and the appointment of Mahinda Rajapaksa as Prime Minister of Sri Lanka.

The students have called President Maithripala Sirisena’s actions undemocratic and have demanded the parliament to be convened at the earliest to decide the fate of the two leaders.

Kaushalya Kumarasinghe, a student, said, “We don’t want to take sides. But according to democratic traditions, the president should call the parliament. We demand that he end this uncertainty which has already led to violence. This is what everybody demands in Sri Lanka.”

Students from other countries joined the protest too.

A letter written by the students to the Sri Lankan President was handed over to the Deputy High Commissioner at the Sri Lankan High Commission in New Delhi.

The letter signed by over 1,000 students said, “We, the students of South Asian University, New Delhi are concerned about the developing uncertainty in the political scenario of Sri Lanka consequent to the removal of Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe, and the appointment of Mahinda Rajapaksa as the new Prime Minister. This act, which has been carried out amid much secrecy and without a floor vote in Parliament, has already cost people their lives and considerable disruption to public life. At the moment, we are not debating the legality of this action in terms of the constitution. We are concerned about the ethics of the action and the political uncertainty it may push the country into.”

Udhayani Navaratnam, a Sri Lankan-Tamil student, said, “Keeping the ethnicities that we belong to aside, this protest is a call for democracy. We are not supporting any one leader. We are fighting for democracy.”

Umesh Joshi, an India student said, “This is a long series of events that is happening across the world where democratically elected leaders are being removed unconstitutionally. This is a coup de tat. In the parliament, it should be decided who should rule the country. It is unconstitutional and against the law. We as students of South Asian University stand with our Sri Lankan friends and call for a peaceful and democratic resolution to the situation that is prevailing in Sri Lanka.”

The letter asks President Sirisena to respect the mandate of the 2015 elections that was bestowed upon him by the people and take the right decision. “Such an action will ensure that stability will return to Sri Lanka along with the confidence of the international community, which is at the moment clearly lost,” it reads.

Comparing the development of Sri Lanka with his own country, Afghan student Rustom Seerat said, “We have seen bloodless and bloody coups in Afghanistan. We urge that countries should shun violence and autocracy. Sri Lanka should choose the path of democracy.”

Expressing disappointment, Anushka Kahandagama said, “We have a parliament elected through the votes of the people. They are acting like citizens don’t exist. We elected the parliament, so let the parliament decide who is the prime minister.”

There has been an international call for the government of Sri Lanka to convene the parliament so that there can be a resolution to the political crisis. But India has been rather quiet about the entire development.

In response to queries regarding the recent developments in Sri Lanka, India’s Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar on Sunday said, “India is closely following the recent political developments in Sri Lanka. As a democracy and a close friendly neighbour, we hope that democratic values and the constitutional process will be respected. We will continue to extend our developmental assistance to the friendly people of Sri Lanka.”

Source: India Today -Agencies

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