India on Sunday said it continues to stand with citizens of Sri Lanka as the island nation witnessed unrest sparked by an unprecedented economic crisis. New Delhi is closely following the recent developments in Sri Lanka, the Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said.

“India stands with the people of Sri Lanka as they seek to realise their aspirations for prosperity and progress through democratic means and values, established institutions and constitutional framework,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

The statement came as protests intensified in Sri Lanka against the government’s failure to curb the economic crisis. Violent clashes have erupted in Sri Lanka between supporters of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s party and the anti-government demonstrators since April. In May, 10 persons died in the clashes.

On Saturday, Ranil Wickremesinghe said that he will resign as Sri Lanka’s prime minister to make way for an all-party government. On the same day, Gotabaya Rajapaksa also agreed to step down as the Sri Lankan president on July 13. This was after thousands of protesters in Colombo stormed the president’s official residence during an anti-government march.

Rajapaksa reportedly fled the official residence hours before the protestors entered the premises. His whereabouts are unknown.

In his statement, Bagchi added that India is Sri Lanka’s closest neighbour and that the two countries “share deep civilisational bonds”.

“We are aware of the many challenges that Sri Lanka and its people have been facing, and we have stood with the Sri Lankan people as they have tried to overcome this difficult period,” he said.

Sri Lanka has plunged into its worst economic crisis since 1948. An inflation rate spiralling towards 40% along with shortages of medicines, milk powder, cooking gas, kerosene and other essential items have sparked countrywide protests.

This year alone, India has offered support of over $3.8 billion to improve the economic situation in Sri Lanka, Bagchi said on Sunday.

Meanwhile, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Sunday reiterated that India has always been “very supportive of Sri Lanka”, the Hindustan Times reported.

“We are trying to help and we are always very helpful where they are concerned,” he added. “They are right now working through their problems, so we have to wait and see what they do.”

Congress expresses its solidarity

Meanwhile, the Congress on Sunday also expressed its solidarity with Sri Lanka.

“The Indian National Congress has been following with concern the evolving political situation in Sri Lanka,” Congress President Sonia Gandhi said in a statement. “The economic challenges, rising prices and shortage of food, fuel and essential commodities have caused enormous hardships and distress among the people there.”

The Congress hoped that Sri Lanka will overcome the crisis, Gandhi said.

“We hope that India will continue to assist the people and the government of Sri Lanka as they deal with the difficulties of the current situation,” she added.

The Congress also urged the international community to extend their assistance to Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka minister resigns

Sri Lankan Investment Promotion Minister Dhammika Perera on Sunday resigned from his office, the News Wire reported.

With this, his 16-day stint as the minister in the Sri Lankan government came to an end.

“I accepted the above position taking into consideration the current economic situation and the great love I have for my country,” he wrote in his resignation letter. “I am now of the view that Sri Lanka should expediate to identify and implement a solution that will achieve economic stability and address the needs of the people of our country.”

Perera tendered his resignation to the president.

He is the fourth minister to resign from the Cabinet after Harin Fernando, Manusha Nanayakkara and Bandula Gunawardena amid the unrest over the last two days, NDTV reported.

Meanwhile, the country’s Army chief General Shavendra Silva on Sunday requested Sri Lankans to support the armed forces and the police and appealed to maintain calm in the nation.