New Delhi: India on Wednesday rejected visiting Sri Lankan Foreign Minister GL Peiris` contention that Tamil Nadu politicians are cynical in raising objections over training of its military personnel saying sentiments of the people of the state have to be respected.
"I do not subscribe to the view that objections or sentiments raised by Tamil Nadu leaders are cynical. Even now, the relief and rehabilitation is not going on the expected speed even though they are taking certain actions. There are sentiments in Tamil Nadu and we have to respect that," Defence Minister A K Antony said.
He was asked to react to Peiris` comments that objections by Tamil Nadu politicians over training of Lankan personnel in India do not matter as no training has been changed and the points raised by the politicians of the neighbouring in this regard are cynical.
All Tamil Nadu politicians including Chief Minister J Jayalalitha have been opposing the training of Sri Lankan defence personnel in Indian military institutions and she had also written a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh opposing this.
Antony further said Sri Lanka was India`s close neighbour and "we have to maintain close relations with them".
"There are military institutions in many parts of India and outside Tamil Nadu also. On one side, we will respect sentiments of Tamil Nadu and we will avoid that area. At the same time, in other institutions, we will complete the training (of Sri Lankans) as per our commitment," he said.
In view of the sentiments against Sri Lanka in Tamil Nadu, Antony has asked the armed forces to ensure that bilateral exercises with the island nation are carried out away from the south Indian states.
A bilateral army special forces exercise was also shifted from Belgaum in Karnataka last month to an alternative location to respect the sentiments of the people of Tamil Nadu.