An elaborate parade of armed forces in the morning commemorated 60 years of Sri Lanka's independence from the British. The deserted look of the capital city soon after was a touch surprising. The shops were all closed, traffic sparse and other than a countable number of inquisitive tourists, the streets around Taj Samudra, the team hotel, were isolated.
Except for police and army personnel after every 100 yards and on roof tops of hotels and buildings which overlook the Galle Face Road through which the parade passed, hardly anyone ventured out. The picture was like one of Kolkata making a CPIM-called bandh 'successful', of course without the posted security personnel.
Most of the India team members slept through it. The Sri Lanka cricketers gathered in one room and watched the parade from the balcony. Two fighter planes flew past and the navy with a fleet of around 10 combat ships and a number of patrol crafts took the salute. It was followed by a seemingly unending line of companies that marched past.
The India team was invited to meet President Mahinda Rajapaksa over dinner at his residence not far from the hotel and left around 6 in the evening. Manager Prakash Dikshit said every member had already been searched even before boarding the bus which left guarded by a number of police cars and motorbikes.
Now that the LTTE resistance is almost nullified, why such elaborate security measures? "The LTTE are gone, yes. But even a slight disturbance created today would be a huge moral victory for them. With the teams and foreign media around it could mean huge publicity for them," a security officer said without wanting to be named.