Confusion reigns at JO ‘Jana Balaya’

As supporters of the Joint Opposition led by Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and JO stalwarts converged at the Lake House roundabout yesterday evening for the planned ‘Jana Balaya’ anti-government protest, confusion reigned with its organisers maintaining a stoic silence regarding their plans. Crowds blocked the roads in the area surrounding Lakehouse. However, there was no centre point in the protest with politicians and crowds scattered in pocket groups wandering around aimlessly.

The protest march began at the Colombo Fort Bo-Tree junction with the arrival of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa around 3.30 pm.

The roads were cleared by the time making way for the protestors as many offices in Colombo had allowed its employees to leave early in anticipation of a rally. However, many commuters were left standing in long queues at the Colombo Fort Railway Station with trains packed to the brim. Busses were also less in numbers as a result of the protest.

The protestors marched towards the Lake House roundabout with Mahinda Rajapaksa heading it in a motorcade where they were joined by crowds that had gathered there. However, the Rajapaksa’s headed in different directions leaving the protestors at the roundabout to enjoy refreshments where they were entertained by papare bands. They were later seen being addressed by JO stalwart parliamentarian Weerawansa.

No riot Police presence was seen with a small number of Special task force personnel (STF) and Police provided security around the Lake House Roundabout and its surroundings.

Crowds, however, thinned towards the latter part of the evening as the group attempted to stage a sit-in while roads in many other areas in Colombo such as Maradana, Galle Road, Peliyagoda were cleared for traffic.

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