A host of leaders, led by Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, on Monday reacted strongly to the report that two senior officers of the Sri Lankan armed forces were undergoing training at the Defence Service Staff College, Wellington, in the Niligiris district.

The leaders demanded that the officers concerned be made to return to Sri Lanka immediately.

In her letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the Chief Minister described the Union government’s decision to impart training to the Sri Lankan officers as an utter disrespect shown to the sentiments of the people of Tamil Nadu. She requested him to advise the Defence Ministry not to give training to personnel of the Sri Lankan armed forces anywhere in India.

She referred to the visit by Air Vice Marshal Jegath Julanga Diaz of the Sri Lankan Air Force and Rear Admiral S. Ranasinghe of the Sri Lankan Navy along with 25 other trainees from various countries to the Niligiris district as part of an ongoing training programme.

“The people of Tamil Nadu are frustrated and outraged by this callous and adamant attitude of the Government of India in persistently giving training to personnel belonging to the Sri Lankan Armed Forces in India,” Ms Jayalalithaa stated.

She reminded Dr Singh that even though she had requested him to take steps for sending back nine personnel of the Sri Lankan Air Force who earlier underwent technical training at the Air Force Station, Tambaram, the Union government was now giving training to them at the Yelahanka Air Force Station, Bangalore.

Adverting to the State Assembly’s resolution that called upon the Centre to pursue with the United Nations the issue of declaring those found guilty of war crimes as war criminals and taking steps for an economic embargo on the Sri Lankan government till Tamils in Sri Lanka were treated on a par with Sinhalese, Ms. Jayalalithaa said: “Tamils across the world feel that the sentiments of the Tamils have been trampled on by the Government of India, not only with its inaction on this resolution, but also by continuing to give preferential treatment by way of providing technical training to defence personnel belonging to Sri Lanka.”

In a statement, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam president M. Karunanidhi termed as unacceptable the Centre’s training programme for the Sri Lankan officers. It would be better if the Union government avoided hurting the feelings of the Tamils, he said.

MDMK general secretary Vaiko accused the Centre of having committed acts of “unpardonable betrayal” against the Tamils.