Close on the heels of the recent objection raised by Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa to the training of Sri Lankan airmen at the Indian Air Force station in Tambaram, Chennai, two Lankan officers - Rear Admiral SN Ranasinghe and Major General Jayasularaaga Dias - have arrived at the hill station of Coonoor, sparking protests.
The officers are part of a 25-member delegation from 10 countries for a one day programme at the Defence Services Staff College.
The officers, who landed in Tamil Nadu on Sunday evening, have already got a taste of the strong anti-Lankan sentiment in Chennai. 25 MDMK workers attempted to take out a march to the Gateway hotel, where the visitors are staying, and were arrested by the police. There is heavy police deployment outside the hotel as a few Tamil outfits are expected to stage demonstrations on Monday in a bid to prevent the officers from attending the conference.
Recently, bowing to pressure from the Tamil Nadu chief minister, as well as UPA ally the DMK, MDMK and PMK, the Indian Defence Ministry ordered the Lankan Air Force trainees to be moved out of the state. Ms Jayalalithaa had also accused the centre of "pussyfooting" over the issue instead of "pouncing on Sri Lanka like a tiger."
The presence of the two officers is bound to result in more angry statements released by political parties in Tamil Nadu. Interestingly, Ms Jayalalithaa is camping at Kodanad, less than 50 kms from the venue of the conference.