It was shocking to learn of the attack on Sri Lankan pilgrims near Velankanni in Tamil Nadu. It was against our age-old tradition of athithi devo bhava and a big embarrassment to the Centre. There is competition among all political parties in Tamil Nadu to target Sri Lankans — whether they are army personnel being trained or school football teams on a goodwill tour to India. Such incidents are bound to dent India’s image internationally. Relations between New Delhi and Colombo will come under strain, pushing Sri Lanka closer to China.
The image of Tamil Nadu, known for its hospitality, is being tarnished. Pelting the buses in which the Sri Lankan pilgrims travelled with stones was the height of callousness. Such acts by agitated miscreants will only jeopardise the interests of the Sri Lankan Tamils. Let us give people-to-people contact, diplomacy and confidence-building measures a chance to flourish.
We certainly cannot find a political solution to the Tamils question in Sri Lanka by sending back its football team or attacking pilgrims belonging to that nation. Our political parties should stop adopting such tactics to draw people’s attention.
That Sri Lankan pilgrims visiting Poondi and Velankanni were made the target of an attack for the accumulated anger against the Rajapaksa government is indeed sad. Such incidents affect the collective consciousness of the people of Tamil Nadu who are known for their kindness.
A. Michael Dhanaraj,
There is no doubt that the Sri Lankan government headed by Mahnida Rajapaksa ought to be made accountable for the war crimes against the Tamils during the last phase of the Eelam war. International forums are taking steps in that direction. But why should we punish Sri Lankan women and children on a visit here with the permission of the Indian government?
The Catholic Church in Tamil Nadu has condemned the ethnic genocide committed by the Sinhalese army in Sri Lanka and conducted prayers in all churches. But half-baked actions like attacking Sri Lankan pilgrims will serve no purpose; they will only invite the wrath of the international community.