Constable’s crescendo: Sri Lanka cop fired for piano tune while protestors stormed presidential home

  • Constable R. M. D. Dayaratne was sacked for playing the
    piano during a protest at the presidential compound.
  • The officer was accused of breaching discipline after a
    lengthy investigation.
  • A senior officer compared him to Nero, the ancient Roman
    emperor who played music while the city burned.

The protest was sparked by an economic crisis, and
protesters demanded the resignation of then-president Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

Sri
Lanka’s police force said 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, told
AFP.

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“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.

Protestors demanding the resignation of Sri Lanka’s President Gotabaya Rajapaksa swim in a pool inside the compound of Sri Lanka’s Presidential Palace in Colombo on 9 July 2022.

Rajapaksa
was accused of precipitating corruption and mismanagement that triggered the
downturn, which led to severe shortages of food, fuel and medicines.

He
was forced to seek temporary exile in Singapore, from where he issued his
resignation, though he has since returned to Sri Lanka.

His
successor, Ranil Wickremesinghe, has offered an amnesty to those returning
historic artefacts stolen from the building.


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