Church regrets latest mishap faced by Lankan pilgrims in TN


By Norman Palihawadana

 Bishop Emmanuel Fernando yesterday expressed deep regret over a group of Lankan Catholic pilgrims being prevented from visiting the Velankanni Church, in Tamil Nadu on Sunday night.

The pilgrims had gone to Tamil Nadu to fulfill their religious wish and not to hurt or confront anyone, therefore it was a foolish act to prevent them from worshipping at a venerated shrine, the Bishop said.

He also said that they would look into the matter further, but urged the devotees to bear with patience any problems they might have faced.

According to Indian reports, around 70 Sri Lankan citizens, who were visiting the Velankanni church in Nagappattinam, had to turn back on police advice after they met with some opposition on the way.

Seventy five Sri Lankans arrived in Tiruchi on a Mihin Lanka flight on Sunday evening and immediately many of them left for Velankanni in two buses.

The buses were reportedly stopped on the outskirts of Needamangalam in Tiruvarur district and the tourists were advised to return to prevent any untoward incident. Later in the night, they left for Chennai to head back home.

On September 04, last year, two buses carrying Sri Lankan pilgrims were attacked in Thanjavur and a pilgrimage to churches in Velankanni and Poondi Matha in central Tamil Nadu turned out to be a nightmare for a group of Sri Lankan nationals when pro-Eelam groups protested against them at the shrines and later attacked them. The 184-strong group of pilgrims was compelled to cut short their visit and leave India on a special Mihin Lanka flight at that time.

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