The Government yesterday strongly condemned the harassment of Sri Lankan nationals visiting the Tamil Nadu state of India and urged the Sri Lankan public to not to visit Tamil Nadu until further notice.
The announcement by the Sri Lanka’s External Affairs Ministry follows an incident of a mob attack yesterday on 184 Sri Lankan Catholic pilgrims to the state.
The Sri Lankan government said 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 Ministry said in a statement.
The Ministry said 184 Sri Lankan pilgrims visiting the Poornimatha Church in Thanjavur have been mobbed today and become refuge in the church.
The Sri Lankan government said it has taken all steps required through the Indian Government to seek the safety of these pilgrims.
The Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu J. Jayalalithaa on Sunday ordered the state officials to send back two Sri Lankan school soccer teams which were in Chennai to play friendly matches with two schools in the state.
Since the election of Jayalalithaa as the Chief Minister of the Tamil Nadu state the anti-Sri Lankan sentiment is growing and there is an increasing hostility towards the Sri Lankans.
The Ministry statement said the government is “constrained to request Sri Lankan nationals in the interest of their security to desist from undertaking visits to Tamil Nadu until further notice.”
The Sri Lankans, who has a compelling reason to visit Tamil Nadu, should inform the Sri Lanka Deputy High Commission in Chennai prior to their visit, the government cautioned.
However, travel to all other states in India is safe for Sri Lanka nationals, the Ministry noted.