COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s police force said on Friday it had sacked an officer who entertained protesters with an impromptu piano performance after they stormed the island nation’s presidential compound last year.
Constable R. M. D. Dayaratne was deployed to help protect the colonial-era residence on the day it was taken over by protesters who forced then-president Gotabaya Rajapaksa to flee the country.
Instead, he sat at a grand piano in the compound and played a song to the crowd streaming through its rooms.
“Dayaratne was on social media playing the piano while the building was being vandalised,” a senior officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, said.
“He was our Nero,” the officer added, referring to the ancient Roman emperor said to have played the fiddle while the city burned in a weeklong fire.
Police authorities concluded that the constable had breached discipline after a lengthy investigation.
Before the compound was stormed in July 2022, protesters had been camped outside Rajapaksa’s office for months demanding he step down over the island nation’s unprecedented economic crisis.
Protesters seized the residence and were later seen frolicking in the presidential pool and jumping on Rajapaksa’s four-poster bed.
Rajapaksa was accused of precipitating corruption and mismanagement that triggered the downturn, which led to severe shortages of food, fuel and medicines.
Published in Dawn, September 2nd, 2023