Rajapaksa at Bodh Gaya to offer prayers
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa arrived at Bodh Gaya on Friday morning from Colombo on a pilgrimage trip during which he will also pray at Tirupati in Tamil Nadu.
Bodh Gaya, is the site where Lord Buddha attained enlightenment and which hosts a 1,500-year-old temple -- the most sacred to Buddhists worldwide.
While in Bihar, Rajapaksa is expected to meet Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. He is also set to inaugurate a cultural centre in Bodh Gaya.
Rajapaksa will then proceed to the Tirupati temple, before returning to Sri Lanka on Saturday or Sunday.
In the meantime, DMK chief M Karunanidhi led protests on Friday in Tamil Nadu against the visit of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. In Delhi, MDMK chief Vaiko is leading the protest.
Rajapaksa will not meet Indian leaders. Despite the private nature of the visit, the Indian authorities have extended full security cooperation for the Sri Lankan President’s visit, Prasad Kariyawasam, Sri Lanka's High Commissioner in India said.
Political parties in Tamil Nadu want the Sri Lanka government to be held accountable for alleged atrocities against Sri Lankan Tamils, who are in a minority in the country.
Last year, at the United Nations Human Rights Council session in Geneva, India supported a resolution, sponsored by the US, for 'promoting reconciliation and accountability' in Sri Lanka after its army won a 26-year-long civil war by defeating the rebel Tamil Tigers.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had been warned that if India did not vote against Sri Lanka, the DMK would pull out of the government. Sri Lanka's Tamils have long complained of persecution by successive governments.
The UN resolution asked Sri Lanka to implement the recommendations of a committee it created internally, the Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) Process, to study the allegations of war crimes.
The Sri Lankan president has been quoted as saying that he is opposed to granting autonomy to provinces, remarks that are widely seen as going back on promises made earlier to Indian leaders.
On Thursday, Human Rights Watch urged the Indian government to put pressure on Sri Lanka to embrace a path of reconciliation with the Tamil community following the defeat of the Tamil Tigers. Rights activists and political parties in Tamil Nadu want India to vote against Sri Lanka in Geneva. Human Rights Watch has also demanded that the November Commonwealth summit should be taken away from Sri Lanka.
- Asian Tribune -