A group of Sri Lankans visiting the state of Tamil Nadu in India on a pilgrimage to a famous Christian church were forced to return to Sri Lanka after the pro-LTTE supporters staged a demonstration against them.
A group of 184 Sri Lankan nationals comprising both Sinhalese and Tamils, had arrived Sunday at the Poornimatha (Poondi Madha) Basilica, about 30 km from Thanjavur to participate in its two-day annual festival.
According to the police, activists of Naam Tamizhar Iyakkam headed by film director Seeman, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi and P. Nedumaran-led Tamizhar Desiya Poduvudamai Katchi have staged the protest asking the Sri Lankans to go back.
The harassed pilgrims had been forced to seek refuge in the church.
The pilgrims have said that they have come every year to participate in the church's feast and they have decided to return home after the demonstration.
The incident comes a day after the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa ordered the officials to send back two Sri Lankan school football teams which had come on invitation for friendly matches.
The Deputy High Commissioner for Sri Lanka in Southern India R.K.M.A. Rajakaruna termed the incidents unfortunate.
“The students were here on invitation…it was a goodwill visit and they had their return tickets. The visit was not in connection with any Government programme but based on people-to-people contact. It is very unfortunate that these incidents are happening here,” he told The Hindu.