Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa's action to order officials to send back two Sri Lankan school football teams which had come for playing a friendly match has harmed the image of the State and tarnished the reputation of India as an open and tolerant society, The Hindu said in an editorial today.
Nothing could be more myopic than Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s outburst against the visit of a Sri Lankan school football team to Tamil Nadu and her decision to suspend an official for allowing a match to be played in the government-owned Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai, the editorial said.
The reason for the official’s suspension is that he allowed a team from Royal College, Colombo, to play a friendly against a local Customs team at the stadium on August 31. As part of the fallout, the students and coach of a team from another school, Hilburn International College, Ratnapura, which was planning to play against a Chennai school, were sent packing on the Chief Minister’s insistence. It is tempting to see a connection between this hostile act towards innocent schoolchildren and the strident political demands Ms Jayalalithaa and other party leaders have been making in recent weeks that India put an end to its practice of training military personnel from Sri Lanka’s defence services. However, it is one thing to demand the government desist from training soldiers from the island nation and quite another to ask for — and then peremptorily impose — a virtual embargo on sporting and cultural ties with ordinary Sri Lankans, it added.
Today a school soccer match has been cancelled; tomorrow the demand will be for a ban on cricketers, tourists and pilgrims from Sri Lanka, the newspaper said.
Read the full text of the editorial at: http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/article3855340.ece
(Note: Significantly a group of Sri Lankan Catholic pilgrims both Sinhala and Tamil- were forced to leave Tamil Nadu yesterday – see story alongside)