The High Commissioner of India has held meetings with Buddhist prelates on Saturday to address their concerns about the two recent assaults on Sri Lankan Buddhist monks in Tamil Nadu state of India.
High Commissioner of India Ashok Kantha has met with senior monks at India House and underlined that these were isolated incidents and did not reflect the strong people-to-people bonds that have been an integral part of the close historical, cultural and civilizational ties between the two countries, the High Commission in Colombo said in a statement.
Recalling the statement of the Ministry of External Affairs of India on 19th March 2013, the High Commissioner has assured the prelates that the Government of India, in consultation with the concerned state governments, has taken and will continue to take all possible measures to ensure the safety, security and well-being of Sri Lankan visitors to India, including to Tamil Nadu.
The statement by the Ministry of External Affairs of India said the state government of Tamil Nadu had taken immediate action to identify and prosecute the miscreants responsible for these incidents.
During the meeting the prelates underlined the need for a closer dialogue between civil society and religious leaders on the two sides, to avoid such incidents. A proposal to initiate such a dialogue would be pursued in the coming days and months.
Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha Thero, Ven. Banagala Upatissa Nayaka Thero, Ven. Kirima Wimalajoti Nayaka Thero, Ven. Muruththettuwe Ananda Thero, Ven. Thiniyawala Palitha Thero, Ven. H. Kondangna Thero, Ven. Galagoda Attha Gnanasara Thero and Mr. Vasantha De Silva, Secretary Mahabodhi Society participated in the meeting with the High Commissioner.
Ven. Banagala Upatissa Nayaka Thero, the Chief Incumbent of the Mahabodhi Society of Sri Lanka, briefed the gathering and expressed appreciation towards the extensive arrangements made by the Tamil Nadu police in recent days, to provide security for Sri Lankan pilgrims.
During another meeting on 20 March 2013, with another group of senior monks, the High Commissioner has exchanged views on the need to enhance security for Sri Lankan pilgrims and to maintain the centuries-old cultural and civilizational links.
Ven. Prof. Bellanwilla Wimalaratna Anunayake Thero, Ven. Dr. Itapana Damalankara Anunayake Thero, Ven. Dr. Brahmanawathe Sivalee Thero, Ven. Dr. Akuretiye Nanda Thero, Ven. Dr. Nagoda Amarawansa Thero, and Ven. Muruththettuwe Ananda Thero, have attended that meeting.
The High Commission has agreed to hold consultations with the Ministry of Buddhasasana Affairs on any additional measures required in this regard. The Deputy High Commissioner had accordingly met Mr. M.K.B. Dissanayake, Secretary, Buddhasana Affairs, on 21 March, to follow up on this suggestion.
The High Commissioner has noted that the cultural interaction between India and Sri Lanka had been intense, resulting in constant cross-fertilization in the spheres of art, literature, culture and philosophy.
The High Commission statement noted that nearly 250,000 Sri Lankan nationals visited India while over 175,000 Indian nationals visited Sri Lanka in 2012 and most Sri Lankan nationals visiting India travel through Chennai for tourism, pilgrimage or shopping. Of the 128 flights connecting Indian and Sri Lankan cities, 76 involve destinations in Tamil Nadu.
In order to get a true perspective, the isolated incidents of attacks on Sri Lankan nationals should be seen against these important facts, the Indian High Commission said.