Despite the travel advisory issued by Sri Lanka to its citizens against travelling to Tamil Nadu following incidents of violence in Tiruchi, the flow of pilgrims remains normal.
According to Rev. Kalawane Mahanama Thero, Chief Monk (in-charge) of the Mahabodhi Society’s Chennai centre, the flow of pilgrims was normal.
“Even yesterday there were about 1,200 people from Sri Lanka. I told pilgrim groups that the situation here is peaceful and calm and they need not cancel their programmes. Police officials are in constant touch with us and adequate security has been provided for the centre,” he told The Hindu on Thursday.
Rev. Thero said visiting pilgrims had no knowledge about the recent incidents in Tamil Nadu. “I have explained to them that there was some disturbance in Tiruchi, but the situation had returned to complete normalcy now. A large number of pilgrims arrived from Sri Lanka,” he said.
However, an official in the office of the Deputy High Commissioner of Sri Lanka in southern India said there was a drop in the number of visitors to Tamil Nadu in the last few days. “It is not necessary that every citizen of Sri Lanka who visits Tamil Nadu contacts the commission. We know that the pilgrims are still coming,” she said.
Balakrishnan Prathapan, who is in-charge of the Sri Lankan Airlines in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, said there was no significant drop in the number of passengers. “I was in Colombo on Thursday and I have conveyed to our office that there is no disturbance here. We hope that incidents such as those in Tiruchi do not recur. There were no bulk cancellations or advancement of journeys in our airlines in the recent days,” he said.
Meanwhile, the State police are maintaining a heightened level of security at all Sri Lankan establishments in Tamil Nadu. The bandobust would continue till the proposed visit of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa to Sanchi in Madhya Pradesh later this month.