Chennai: Amid simmering tension between Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka, a team of young cricketers from the island has been sent back from Chennai where it was meant to participate in a tournament that starts today.
The police said the teens were asked to return to Colombo because their presence could have incited protests.
On Friday, Sri Lanka apologized for a derogatory article and illustration about Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The caricature was posted on its Defence website, and was titled "How meaningful are Jayalalithaa's love letters to Narendra Modi?" Sri Lanka issued an: "unqualified apology" amid public outrage in Tamil Nadu and said that the article had been published "without appropriate authorisation."
The article and illustration implied that the PM is being unduly influenced by Ms Jayalalithaa who has been demanding action against Sri Lanka for its repeated arrests of fishermen from her state. Like other politicians from Tamil Nadu, she has also been asking the Centre to demand an international probe into allegations that Sri Lankan troops, largely Sinhalese, killed at least 40,000 ethnic Tamil civilians in the final stages of the country's civil war in 2009.
The 15 Sri Lankan teens who were ordered to go back today had landed in Chennai yesterday; they were to participate in a privately-organized all-India tournament for under-15s organized by J Haroon, a Congress politician. "This is unfortunate. There was no protest or any threat from any group. Perhaps the state government anticipated trouble," he told NDTV.
In 2012, the Tamil Nadu government had sent back a soccer team from Colombo which was in Chennai to play with local clubs. The state also did not allow Sri Lankan players who belong to IPL cricket teams to play in Chennai, citing potential law and order problems.