The Police yesterday, arrested 28 protesters for unruly behaviour during a protest held at the Indian Consulate in Hambantota.
The group led by the Joint Opposition had earlier planned to hold their protest outside the Mattala Airport but plans changed as the Police obtained a court order to prevent them from engaging in any protests outside the airport.
At the Indian Consulate, a tense situation led to clashes between the Police and protesters, leading to their arrest with four policemen being injured in the attack. Police had used tear gas and water cannon to disperse the crowd.
The group which had the participation of MPs Namal Rajapaksa, Mahinda Ananda Aluthgamage, Prof G.L. Peiris, Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena and Sanath Nishantha had launched the protest against the involvement of foreign companies at the Hambantota Port and Mattala Airport. They had stated that they were against these assets being sold to foreigners.
The government of Sri Lanka in July signed a USD 1.1 billion deal with the Chinese over the Hambantota Port where the latter received a 70 percent stake on a 99-year lease.
This was seen as a move to reduce the amount of debt the country owed to China.
Both the Port as well as the airport were projects initiated during the Rajapaksa regime with Chinese loans and has since then become ‘white elephants’. The Mattala Airport since being built has been known as the world’s emptiest airport.