A team of young cricketers from Sri Lanka has been sent back from Chennai due to security concerns, amidst tension between the island nation and Tamil Nadu.
The under-15 team was due to participate in a private tournament slated to start from 5 August, but the organisers sent the team back after receiving advice from police. Tamil Nadu Police officials informed the organisers that they cannot guarantee safety of the players.
Sayid Sadiq Pasha of the Cricket Federation of Tamil Nadu confirmed that the 15-member Sri Lankan team has pulled out of the tournament and the players left for their home from a Sri Lankan Airlines flight on Monday.
"Police told us that it would not be wise to have the team from Sri Lanka play in Chennai because of the security situation," Pasha said. "So we told them to cancel the trip."
The Islanders were set to participate in the JM Haroon Cricket tournament and arrived on Sunday night from Colombo. But the organisers informed them that they cannot compete in the 12-team tournament scheduled from 4-7 August.
This is not the first time a Sri Lankan team has been sent back from Tamil Nadu. In 2012, Jayalalithaa refused to allow a football team from the island nation to participate in a friendly match.
Anti-Sri Lanka emotions are high in Tamil Nadu, after Sri Lankan Defence Ministry website posted a derogatory article on Chief Minister Jayalalithaa. The article, however, was taken down by the website, after the intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The article headlined "How meaningful are Jayalalithaa's love letters to Narendra Modi?" was published on the defence ministry's website implying that the Indian Prime Minister is influenced by Jayalalithaa when it comes to taking action against Sri Lanka.
All political parties in Tamil Nadu strongly supported Jayalalithaa over the issue and after increased pressure from India, the website was forced to take down the article with an "unqualified apology" to the Chief Minister.
The Tamil Nadu CM has a rigid stance on Sri Lanka, as she has been demanding an international probe over the alleged killing of about 40,000 ethnic Tamil civilians during the civil war in 2009. She has also condemned the killing of Indian fisherman in the Indian waters by the Lankan navy.
She has also often spoken against the training of Sri Lanka army personnel with the Indian Army in Tamil Nadu and in other states, saying that the island nation has committed war crimes.