Sri Lankan Tourists asked to return


Against the backdrop of Tamil Nadu parties, including ruling AIADMK, raising the issue of alleged human rights violations in Sri Lanka, a group of 75 Lankan tourists have been asked by the police to return to their country.

The tourists had come here to visit the famous pilgrim centre of Velankanni.

Police here said they had advised them to return in view of the "anti-Sri Lankan" sentiment prevailing in some parts of the district.

The tourists had arrived by a Lankan flight at Tiruchirappalli, 60 km from here, on Sunday evening and immediately left for Velankanni by two buses which were stopped on the outskirts of Needamangalam near here yesterday and advised to return to prevent any untoward incident, police said.

Late in the night, they left for Chennai en route to Colombo, police said.

A week ago Sri Lankan MP Karunaratne Jayasurya had to return without offering worship at Tirukadaiyur, about 120 km from Tiruchirapalli, as pro-Tamil outfits staged a demonstration against him. Protests were also held in front of the hotels at Tirukadaiyur and Tiruchirappali where the MP and his wife stayed.

The incident came a day after Chief Minister Jayalalithaa and key UPA ally DMK President M Karunanidhi condemned the alleged cold blooded killing of slain LTTE chief V Prabhakaran's 12-year-old son and demanded that India support the Sri Lanka- pecific resolution on alleged human rights abuses at the UNHRC meet in Geneva next month.

Jayalalithaa has called off the 20th Asian Athletics Championship scheduled to be held in Chennai in July, saying Lankan players have no place in the state in view of "sentiments" of the people in Tamil Nadu against the island government over the Lankan Tamils issue.

In September last year, a group of 178 Sri Lankan pilgrims to Velankanni, 60 km from here, in Nagapattinam district had to return without offering worship due to protests by pro-Tamil activists.

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