Attacks targeting Sri Lankans in Tamil Nadu are an attempt to sabotage Indo-Sri Lankan relationship and disrupt basic human interaction between citizens of the two countries, R.K.M.A. Rajakaruna, Deputy High Commissioner of Sri Lanka in southern India, said on Tuesday.

Visits by Sri Lankan teams to the State on invitation for friendly matches were in vogue for years and only demonstrated the fact that people of both the countries were keen to interact.

“Such interactions are based on the goodwill between the people. The relationship between the Madras Boat Club and the Colombo Rowing Club is 115 years old. The competitions are played in the spirit of brotherhood and friendship. Amid this, these small groups [apparently referring to the protesters in Tamil Nadu] are raising harsh slogans and levelling all kinds of allegations against the Sri Lankan Government, its leadership and people … they are trying to disrupt natural processes,” he told The Hindu.

Referring to Sri Lankan pilgrims being targeted, he said two officials of the Commission sent to assist them had confirmed that the buses transporting them were attacked in Tiruchi. “This happened despite the presence of police personnel who were escorting the three buses. Some pilgrims suffered minor injuries … women and children were horrified at the attack.”

The Deputy High Commissioner said that he hoped to meet Chief Minister Jayalalithaa and Chief Secretary Debendranath Sarangi to discuss safety concerns. “While appreciating the security provided by the Tamil Nadu Police, I cannot rule out the possibility of an incident, considering the happenings in the last two days.”

Following the travel advisory given to the people of Sri Lanka against visiting Tamil Nadu, Mr. Rajakaruna said efforts were on to create a database of Sri Lankan citizens living in the State. “We have made an appeal asking them to register in the office of the Deputy High Commissioner. The Ministry of External Affairs, Sri Lanka, is in constant touch with the High Commission in New Delhi and Deputy High Commission in Chennai to assess the situation.”

Replying to a question on the steps taken to help Sri Lankan Tamil refugees settled in camps across the State to return to the island nation, Mr. Rajakaruna said helping refugees to return home was a priority area for Sri Lanka. “They are our citizens and we certainly want to take them back to Sri Lanka. We have instructions to assist them in documentation works. Sri Lanka is ready to receive them as its citizens and help them integrate with the mainstream of society.”