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HindustanTimes Fri,18 Apr 2014

Buses carrying SL pilgrims attacked in Tamil Nadu

Agencies  New Delhi, September 04, 2012
First Published: 15:13 IST(4/9/2012) | Last Updated: 20:00 IST(4/9/2012)

Five buses carrying Sri Lankan pilgrims to the Trichy airport were attacked on Tuesday, according to media reports. Pilgrims were injured by broken glasses inside one of the buses, reports said.

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Earlier on Tuesday, a batch of 178 Sri Lankan pilgrims faced protests, with a pro-Tamil outfit trying to block their vehicles when they were returning after offering worship at the famous Velankanni Christain shrine near Nagapattinam.

The Sri Lankan government issued a travel warning to Sri Lankans visiting southern India following a spate of incidents targeting Sri Lankan nationals, the external affairs ministry said.

The Sri Lankan external affairs ministry said that it was compelled to issue the travel advisory after 184 Sri Lankan pilgrims visiting a church in Tamil Nadu became the latest victims of intimidation.

As a result Sri Lankan nationals have been told by the government to desist from undertaking visits to Tamil Nadu until further notice.

The ministry said that in the event there is a compelling reason to visit Tamil Nadu, such a visit should take place following prior timely intimation to the Sri Lanka deputy high commission in Chennai.

Travel to all other states in India are safe for Sri Lanka nationals, the external affairs ministry said.

The Lankan nationals were meted out similar treatment during their pilgrimage to the Poondi Madha Christian shrine near Thanjavur on Monday.

The pilgrims, including 75 women and 36 children, had arrived at Velankanni on Tuesday morning to offer worship at the Shrine Basilica, police said.

As the activists protested, police personnel on security duty for the ongoing annual festival rushed to the spot, arrested them and brought the situation under control within a few minutes, sources said.

The pilgrims later proceeded to Tiruchirappalli safely from where they are expected to leave for Sri Lanka.

The Sri Lankan nationals had worshipped at the Poondi Matha shrine on Monday evening as part of their annual pilgrimage when activists of Naam Tamizhar Iyakkam headed by film director Seeman, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi and P Nedumaran-led Tamizhar Desiya Poduvudamai Katchi, staged a demonstration asking them to go back.

Tamil Nadu politicians have been agitating over the past several weeks against Sri Lanka over allegations of human rights abuses committed during and after the war targeting Tamils.

The Tamil Nadu government had recently also objected to India providing military training to Sri Lanka after the Indian government had insisted that it will continue with the training.

Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa had also this week ordered a football team from a leading Sri Lankan school who were in Tamil Nadu to be sent back.

Tamil political parties in Tamil Nadu are also opposing an upcoming visit to India by Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The Sri Lankan external affairs ministry on Monday night said that 184 Sri Lankan pilgrims visiting a church in Tamil Nadu were mobbed forcing them to take refuge inside the church.

Sri Lanka says it 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.

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 external affairs ministry said.

(With IANS and PTI inputs)

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