Indian pilgrims will be permitted to attend St. Antony's Church festival at Katchatheevu in Sri Lanka on March 19 and 20, according to Collector T.N. Hariharan. Though there are no restrictions on account of visa-related procedures, they will have to pass Customs and other restrictions. They will be frisked by police, Coastal Security Group and others before taking the boat. A meeting was held here on Saturday to discuss the issue of permitting the pilgrims to visit Katchatheevu.

Mr. Hariharan told The Hindu that children below the age of 15 would not be encouraged to undertake the boat journey. Those who intended to visit the island should register within Tuesday. Multiple counters of customs, police and other security agencies would be set up at Rameswaram jetty to help the pilgrims. A. Amalraj, Deputy Inspector General of Police, said that only mechanised boats would only be allowed considering the safety of women and children. All pilgrims should return immediately after the end of the festival.

Commander S. Agarwal, Commanding Officer, Indian Navy, Rameswaram, and Venu Madhav, Commandant, Coast Guard, said that Navy and the Coast Guard vessels would patrol along the journey route and the International Maritime Boundary Line.


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