Local Tamils bear brunt of anti-Lanka attacks
Pro- Tamil outfits that often protest at Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa visit to India are posing a risk to local Tamils working in Sri Lankan government and civil establishments in Chennai.
On Thursday, when masked men protesting against Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa's visit to India, attacked Bank of Ceylon(BOC), the employees injured were Tamils.
Both Sri Lankan and Indian Tamils working in Sri Lankan establishments are increasingly bearing the brunt of attacks by pro-Tamil protesters. It was the turn of Janakan, a Lankan Tamil trainee at BOC, and Rajesh, a Chennai resident, on Thursday when they were hit by broken glass panes after the protesters threw stones at the bank. The bank has been closed for two days and will reopen on Monday. "It's a real threat," was the response of an official at the bank talking to media.
A large posse of police personnel crowded the narrow lane behind a departmental store where the bank is located off Casa Major Road in Egmore in anticipation of further attacks. Earlier located on Poonamallee High Road, the bank was shifted here three months ago.
Security has been strengthened at the office of the Sri Lankan Deputy High Commissioner and Sri Lankan Airline. An official of the airlines said, "There is adequate police protection and there is no fear of being targetted as most of the staff are Indians".
Many Lankan- owned establishments in Chennai are staffed by local Tamilians and they too are under risk of being targeted whenever anti-Lankan sentiments are on a high.
At the Mahabodhi Society of Sri Lanka in Egmore, where 140 Sri Lankan devotees were present, security has been beefed up since the attack on the bank. The pilgrims have been advised not to venture out of the premises . On Friday, the Sri Lankan government asked India to protect its offices and establishments in Tamil Nadu.
Sri Lankan diplomats and intelligence officials who have worked in Chennai earlier arrived a week in advance to supervise security arrangements for Rajapaksa's visit on Friday all the diplomats and administrative staff were roped in for the presidential visit. "None of them including the acting deputy high commissioner Ameer Ajwad were present at the mission as all of them were either in Tirupati supervising the security arrangements for Rajapaksa visit or in various parts of the state where there were protests,'' said an official from the diplomatic mission.
The Sri Lankan diplomatic mission resembled a fortress under siege. All exit and entry points to the mission were guarded by over 250 policemen to prevent any untoward incident.
- Asian Tribune -