After expressing her strong displeasure over Sri Lankan defence personnel undergoing training in her state, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa has now ordered for sending back two Sri Lankan football teams which were undergoing training in Chennai.
The directive from the Chief Minister came after one of the teams, Royal College of Colombo, played a match against the Chennai Customs team at a stadium in the city on Friday. Ms Jayalalithaa has also ordered the suspension of a stadium official for allowing the soccer team to play the "friendly" tie, alleging that he insulted Tamils.
"The (Nehru) Stadium Officer has no authority to allow matches there and only the Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu is authorised to do so. By using an authority that did not exist, the official had demeaned the sentiments of Tamil people," she said. The Chief Minister has also ordered Chief Secretary Debendranath Sarangi to initiate department-level proceedings against the official him.
"I have also instructed that no competitions must be held for the Sri Lankan team besides directing that they be sent back," she said in a statement. The other visiting team, comprising eight students from the Hilborn International School, was scheduled to play in a tournament with students from the Velammal International School in Chennai. The state government has also ordered for the students to be sent back along with their coach.
The Chief Minister has also slammed the Centre for allowing the Sri Lankan players to undergo training and develop their skills in India.
The latest incident comes just over a week after Ms Jayalalithaa asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to halt an ongoing training programme for two Sri Lankan defence personnel at the Defence Services Staff College in Wellington near Ooty. In a strongly-worded letter, she had demanded for the immediate sending back of the two defence personnel, alleging that the training "has been mischievously concealed from my government, showing scant regard for the views of my government as well as for the sentiments of the people of Tamil Nadu."
Last month, the Chief Minister had opposed a similar training programme for nine Sri Lankan Air Force personnel at the Tambaram Air Force Station in Chennai. In view of her stiff opposition and protests from other parties in the state including ally DMK, the Centre had been forced to move them to the Yelahanka Airforce Station in Bengaluru in order to enable them to complete their training. Ms Jayalalithaa had dubbed the move as "not proper", adding that "instead of sending these personnel back to Sri Lanka, the Government of India exhibited excessive enthusiasm and concern for these personnel". Ms Jayalalithaa had then described it as "anti- Tamil" and said "Tamils want action against Sri Lanka for war crimes and they will not accept this" and that "Tamils even suspect whether the Centre is acting against them".
(With inputs from PTI)