May 26, 2013
The Sri Lankan government has issued a travel warning to Sri Lankans visiting southern India following a spate of incidents targeting Sri Lankan nationals. The external affairs ministry said that it was compelled to issue the travel advisory after 184 Sri Lankan pilgrims visiting a church in Tamil Nadu became the latest victims of intimidation.
As a result Sri Lankan nationals have been told by the government to desist from undertaking visits to Tamil Nadu until further notice.
The ministry said that in the event there is a compelling reason to visit Tamil Nadu, such a visit should take place following prior timely intimation to the Sri Lanka Deputy High Commission in Chennai.
Tamil Nadu politicians have been agitating over the past several weeks against Sri Lanka over allegations of human rights abuses committed during and after the war targeting Tamils.
The Tamil Nadu government had recently also objected to India providing military training to Sri Lanka after the Indian government had insisted that it will continue with the training.
Tamil Nadu chief minister J. Jayalalithaa had also ordered a football team from a leading Sri Lankan school who were in Tamil Nadu to be sent back.
Tamil political parties in Tamil Nadu are also opposing an upcoming visit to India by Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Sri Lanka says it regrets the increasing number of instances of intimidation of Sri Lankan nationals visiting Tamil Nadu for the purposes of tourism, religious pilgrimages, sporting and cultural activities and professional training.
However speculation is rife that the Sri Lankan Government is considering lifting the travel advisory after assurances from the Indian Central Government regarding the safety of Sri Lankans visiting Tamil Nadu. Should the Travel Advisory be lifted? Are assurances from the Central Government sufficient or do we need a guarantee from the Tamil Nadu state government? How should Sri Lanka change its foreign policy to meet the challenge of hostility from Tamil Nadu?
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