In a first after the 27-year-old war with the LTTE ended in May, a group of 140 Indian Navy and Coast Guard cadets reached Sri Lanka on Monday as part of a training programme with cadets from the Sri Lankan navy.
The cadets came on two Indian navy war ships, from the Cochin-based first training squadron, and a coast guard ship.
INS Shardul, INS Krishna and coast guard ship Varuna have docked off the Colombo port and will be in Sri Lanka till October 10. Both Shardul and Krishna, originally a British Navy ship, are warships which are now used to train cadets. Both can carry a helicopter each.
``Two Sri Lankan navy ships will also be part of the interaction in the next few days. The Sri Lankan Navy (SLN) ships taking part would be Sayura and Samudra,’’ SLN spokesperson, Commander DKP Dasanayake told HT. Originally, SLNS Sayura was INS Sarayu, which was sold to the Lankan navy 2000.
Dasanayake added that the Indian cadets will be visiting among other places the military and naval academy in Trincomalee. ``We have also lined up a football match between cadets from the two countries,’’ he said, adding that at the peak of the conflict with the LTTE such interactions could not be held.
Few months ago, the Indian government gave a high-tech OPV surveillance ship to the Sri Lankan Navy. It had been commissioned with the Indian coast guard in 1990. Sri Lankan defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa inaugurated the ship in an event held and named it as 'SLNS Sayurala'. Addressing the crowd, he said it will lead to form an amicable relationship between India and Sri Lanka.
Meanwhile, the internally displaced persons (IDPs) over 12 years of age in refugee camps are to be issued with special temporary identity cards, Minister of Disaster Management and Human Rights Mahinda Samarasingha told reporters in Colombo today adding that these ID cards have already been issued to some people.