Despite stringent security measures, Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa encountered protesters shouting “go back” during his personal visit to Buddhist pilgrimage town Bodh Gaya in south-central Bihar on Friday.
CPI-ML (Liberation) activists raised slogans against him for the alleged atrocities on Tamils in Sri Lanka when he came out of the Mahabodhi temple, even as protests raged in Tamil Nadu.
CPI-ML district secretary Niranjan Kumar said 15 party activists were taken into custody, but Bodh Gaya deputy superintendent of police Rakesh Kumar Dubey said only two protesters were detained.
Rajapaksa, heading a 50-member delegation, offered prayers at the Mahabodhi temple, Bihar’s lone world heritage site. His itinerary remained undisturbed by the protest.
He also visited the Sri Lankan Buddhist temple-cum-monastery and inaugurated golden railings around the Bodhi tree and laid the foundation stone of a cultural building.
“He also had refreshments with Buddhist monks of different countries,” said Bodh Gaya temple management committee secretary N Dorje.
Rajapaksa left for Tirupati around 2.35pm, Dorje added.
In Tamil Nadu, thousands of activists from the DMK, the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi and other Tamil groups wore black shirts and held protest demonstrations.
DMK chief M Karunanidhi, who led the protests in Chennai, said Rajapaksa was “systematically destroying Tamil culture, traditions and language in Sri Lanka”.