175 Sri Lankan tourists to return following protests

175 Sri Lankan tourists to return following protests

Chennai, (IANS) One hundred and seventy-five Sri Lankan tourists were safely escorted by police to Tamil Nadu’s Tiruchirapalli airport Tuesday when Tamil activists staged demonstrations against their visit. They are leaving for Sri Lanka late Tuesday, a senior police officer said.

The Sri Lankan tourists were on a tour to Velankanni Church, around 320 km from here.

“The tourists will be leaving for Sri Lanka tonight. Their flight is around 10.40 p.m. We have organised food packets for them at the airport,” Shailesh Kumar Yadav, commissioner of police, Trichy told IANS over phone.

He said another six Lankan tourists later joined the group at the airport.

Following the protests against their visit by Tamil activists, the tourists were taken in vans to Tirchy airport, said police officials.

According to the police, the Lankan tourists were travelling in seven buses. A tyre of one bus got punctured on the outskirts of Trichy and MDMK activists came to know about their presence in the state.

Around 30 MDMK cadres gathered around the buses and shouted slogans and also pelted stones at the buses, police said.

According to police, no serious injuries were caused to the tourists.

Police dispersed the protesters and escorted the Lankan tourists to Trichy airport.

The Sri Lankan government Monday night issued a statement warning its nationals to desist from visiting Tamil Nadu till further notice.

“The Government of Sri Lanka regrets the increasing number of instances of intimidation of Sri Lankan nationals visiting Tamil Nadu for the purposes of tourism, religious pilgrimages, sporting and cultural activities and professional training,” the statement said.

“These visits are a reflection of people to people contact between the polity of two countries which are bound by age old friendly ties and traditions,” the statement added.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa Sunday ordered the sending back of two Sri Lankan football teams that were in the city to play friendly matches. The teams left for their country Monday.

Queried about by reporters, DMK President M. Karunanidhi said it is normal for sportsmen and cricketers from India to visit Sri Lanka and players from Sri Lanka visiting India.

He said all that DMK is saying is that the Sri Lankan defence personnel should not be trained in India and the issue has been raised in parliament as well.

On the proposed visit of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa to India, Karunanidhi said the DMK will not accept with open heart any warm reception to him as he was “responsible for the killings of lakhs of Tamils”.

He said DMK will send the resolutions passed at the Tamil Eelam Supporters Organisation (TESO) meet here to the United Nations (UN).

Karunanidhi said: “Efforts are on to submit the copies of resolutions passed at the TESO meeting to the UN by M.K. Stalin and T.R. Baalu. Soon I will announce when these two would submit the resolutions to the UN and other foreign missions.”

He said one of the resolutions passed at the TESO meeting is that the Tamils in Sri Lanka have lost their livelihood and they are on the run to save their and their children’s lives.

Officials at the Sri Lankan Deputy High Commission here were not available for comments despite several attempts by IANS.

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