Against the backdrop of Tamil Nadu parties, including the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, raising the issue of alleged human rights violations in Sri Lanka, a group of 75 Lankan tourists in the state have been asked by the police to return to their country.
The tourists had come to Tiruvarur to visit the famous pilgrim centre of Velankanni.
The police 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 Tiruvarur, on Sunday evening and immediately left for Velankanni by two buses. The buses were stopped on the outskirts of Needamangalam and advised to return to prevent any untoward incident, said the police.
Late in the night, they left for Chennai en route to Colombo, said the police.
A week ago, Sri Lankan Member of Parliament Karunaratne Jayasurya had to return without offering worship at Tirukadaiyur, nearly 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 United Progressive Alliance ally Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam president M Karunanidhi condemned the alleged cold blooded killing of slain Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam chief V Prabhakaran's 12-year-old son and demanded that India support the Sri Lanka-specific resolution on alleged human rights abuses at the United Nations Human Rights Council meet in Geneva in March.
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 over the Lankan Tamils issue.
In September last year, a group of 178 Sri Lankan pilgrims to Velankanni, 60 km from Tiruvarur, in Nagapattinam district had to return without offering worship due to protests by pro-Tamil activists.