Former Sri Lankan Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa tried to flee the troubled country on Monday night, but was recognized and blocked by airport officials and passengers.
The island has almost exhausted its already scarce supply of petrol. The government has ordered the closure of non-essential offices and schools to reduce traffic and save fuel.
Basil, who is also the younger brother of beleaguered President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, missed his flight to Dubai after passengers protested against him when he tried to board a plane departing from the international airport in Colombo.
Videos shared on social media, the veracity of which India Today could not independently verify, showed passengers objecting to Tulsi Rajapaksa’s presence at the airport and demanding that she not be allowed to leave the country.
Former Sri Lankan Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa was refused by travelers and immigration staff from leaving the country for Dubai. Mahinda and Gotabaya’s brother also have American passports. pic.twitter.com/8PKpWMywAN
— Ashok Swain (@ashoswai) 12 July 2022
The Sri Lanka Immigration and Immigration Officers Association said its members refused to serve the former minister in the VIP departure lounge. Images widely shared on Twitter showed Basil Rajapaksa waiting in the lounge when immigration officials left his posts and refused to clear him for departure.
A photo shared on social media shows immigration officials at Colombo airport refusing to remove Basil Rajapaksa.
There is speculation that Rajapaksa was trying to go to the US, as he also holds an American passport. Top sources in the ruling party told Reuters that he was still in Sri Lanka after his escape attempt failed early Tuesday.
Basil Rajapaksa, 71, resigned as finance minister in early April as street protests escalated against the lack of fuel, food and other necessities. He gave up his seat in parliament in June.
Public anger against Sri Lanka’s powerful ruling family is rampant for its alleged poor handling of the economic downturn. The Rajapaksa clan, including former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and outgoing President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, have dominated the island nation’s politics for years and most Sri Lankans have blamed them for their current misery.
The economic crisis triggered nationwide protests in March this year, which peaked last weekend as protesters stormed the Rashtrapati Bhavan and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s home, occupying both places until the two leaders stepped down. swore to
(With inputs from Ashutosh Mishra, Pramod Madhav and agencies)
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