Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Sunday ordered the suspension of the officer of the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium here for allowing Sri Lankan football players to play a friendly match with a Customs Department team last week.

Ms. Jayalalithaa also directed that the players be sent home.

In a statement, the Chief Minister said she issued orders for sending back eight students and the coach of the team of the Hilburn International School, Ratnapura. The team was here to play matches with Vellammal Higher Secondary School.

The team had come after the Royal College of Colombo evinced interest in playing friendly matches. The college contacted a Reserve Bank of India official, who made the arrangement. The team arrived on August 30 and played a match with the Customs team on August 31.

Ms. Jayalalithaa said, “When I inquired into the matter, I was told that the Reserve Bank official had sought permission from the stadium officer, who had orally granted permission. The officer has no power to allow matches in the indoor stadium and only the Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu (SDAT) has been vested with the power to do so.”

By allowing the Sri Lankan team to play in the stadium, the officer had hurt the sentiments of Tamils, she said. “I have directed the Chief Secretary to place the officer under suspension and take departmental action against him. The Sri Lankan team will not be allowed to play any matches in the State and I have issued orders to send them back to their country.”

It was the Union government that had granted the Sri Lankan team permission to play friendly matches in Tamil Nadu to improve their skills. “The decision of the Indian government had humiliated the people of Tamil Nadu and I condemn the Centre for this,” she said. The permission was given when there was a growing discontent against training being given to Sri Lankan Army officers in Wellington.

Ms. Jayalalithaa alleged that instead of acting on the resolution adopted in the Assembly seeking rehabilitation of the Tamils living in camps and restoration of their rights on a par with those of the Sinhalese, the Centre was ignoring the aspirations of the Tamils by training the Sri Lankan Army. Though she urged the Centre to send the two Army officers back to Sri Lanka, it did not agree to her demand, she noted.

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