Travel advisory: India assures safety to visiting Sri Lankans



New Delhi: Amid reports of attack on buses carrying Sri Lankan pilgrims in Tamil Nadu and a travel advisory issued by Colombo, the government Tuesday assured that it will continue to take all measures to ensure the safety and security of Sri Lankans visiting India.

"I wish to convey here that the government of India, in close consultation with the concerned state governments, has taken and will continue to take all measures to ensure the safety, security and well-being of Sri Lankan dignitaries and visitors to India, including to Tamil Nadu," Syed Akbaruddin, the spokesperson of the external affairs ministry, told reporters here.

The spokesperson stressed that "people-to-people contacts are an integral part of the close historical, cultural, ethnic and civilisational ties between India and Sri Lanka".

He pointed out that the Indian High Commission in Colombo issued visas to nearly 200,000 Sri Lankan nationals to visit India last year, while approximately 175,000 Indian tourists visited Sri Lanka in 2011.

The Sri Lankan government has issued a travel warning following a spate of incidents targeting Sri Lankan nationals, the Sri Lankan foreign office said in Colombo Tuesday.

The external affairs ministry said it was compelled to issue the travel advisory after 184 Sri Lankan pilgrims visiting a church in Tamil Nadu became the latest victims of intimidation, reported Xinhua.

As a result Sri Lankan nationals have been told by the government to desist from undertaking visits to Tamil Nadu until further notice.

The ministry said that in the event there is a compelling reason to visit Tamil Nadu, such a visit should take place following prior timely intimation to the Sri Lanka Deputy High Commission in Chennai.

Travel to all other states in India is safe for Sri Lanka nationals, it said.

Tamil Nadu politicians have been agitating over the past several weeks against Sri Lanka over allegations of human rights abuses committed during and after the war targeting Tamils.

IANS