Now Sri Lankan pilgrims forced to leave Tamil Nadu

150 Sri Lankan nationals, including Sinhalese were forced to head back home from TN after some pro-Tamil outfits staged protest against them.

Updated: Sep 04, 2012, 00:30 AM IST

Thanjavur: Nearly 150 Sri Lankan nationals, including Sinhalese, on a pilgrimage to a famous Christian shrine near here were on Monday forced to cut short their trip and head back home after some pro-Tamil outfits staged protest against them.

The Sri Lankans comprising both Sinhalese and Tamils had arrived at the Poondi Madha shrine, about 20 km from here, yesterday for the two-day annual festival.

Activists of Naam Tamizhar Iyakkam headed by film director Seeman, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi and P Nedumaran-led Tamizhar Desiya Poduvudamai Katchi, who came to know about the presence of Sinhalese people, staged a demonstration asking them to go back, police said.

The pilgrims said they attend the festival every year and offered to return to Sri Lanka to avoid further trouble, they said.

The small group of protesters, known for their pro-LTTE leanings, dispersed after the brief stir and no case was registered, police said.

The pilgrims are likely to reach Tiruchirappalli from where they would leave for Sri Lanka, police sources said.

The incident comes a day after Chief Minister Jayalalithaa ordered sending back home a football team from Royal College of Sri Lanka which played a friendly match against Customs department in Chennai on Friday last.

Jayalalithaa, who slammed the Centre for allowing the Sri Lankan football team into India, had also directed that eight students of a Lankan school who had come for a tournament with a city-based school and their coach be sent back.

Her action came against the backdrop of her consistent opposition to India training Lankan military personnel, alleging the island republic`s forces had committed war crimes against Tamils during the last phase of 2009 war against LTTE.