Convoy carrying Lankan pilgrims attacked in TN



Zeenews Bureau

Chennai: A convoy of three buses carrying 178 Sri Lankan pilgrims were attacked by activists of Tamil outfits en route to Trichy airport on Tuesday.

The protesters gathered around the buses and shouted slogans.

"Sinhalese go back" shouted the protesters as one of the tyres of a bus got punctured and had to stop, bringing the convoy to a halt.

The protesters then attacked three buses and used two wheelers to block the road, police said.

The mob hurled sticks and stones at the buses, reports say.

According to police, no serious injuries were caused to the tourists.

Police dispersed the protesters and safely escorted the Lankan tourists to Trichy airport.

The Sri Lankan pilgrims left the city for Colombo by a flight at around 10.40 pm, airport sources said.

Tight security arrangements were put in place at the airport to prevent any untoward incident.

In New Delhi, an External Affairs Ministry spokesman said India would take all measures to ensure safety and security of Sri Lankans in the country.

"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," he said.

Earlier in the day, a group of Sri Lankan pilgrims faced the ire of Tamil outfits while returning from the famous Velankanni Christian shrine, situated at a distance of 320 km from here. The protesters tried to block their vehicles while returning after prayers.

The Lankan nationals were meted out a similar treatment at their pilgrimage to Poondi Madha Christian shrine near Thanjavur yesterday.

The incidents came a day after Sri Lanka issued a travel advisory, asking its citizens not to visit Tamil Nadu until further notice in the wake of "increasing number of instances of intimidation" of Sri Lankans in the state. The developments also come close on the heels of Chief Minister Jayalalithaa ordering sending back a football team from Royal College, which played a friendly against Customs department in Chennai on Friday last.

Striking a discordant note against the action of his arch rival Jayalalithaa, DMK Chief M Karunanidhi said his party is not averse to India's cultural and sporting ties with Sri Lanka, but to training of Lankan defence personnel by India.

"All that we can insist is there should be no military training to Sri Lankan personnel in India as the military was responsible for death of civilian Tamils (during the armed conflict). That is what we have been striving for and even stoutly opposing in Parliament," Karunanidhi, whose party is a key UPA ally, said.

With PTI inputs