Sri Lanka bringing back pilgrims from India

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is working towards bringing back s hundreds of its nationals who are pilgrims in India, the Ministry of Foreign Relations said.

In a press release, the Ministry said that it is estimated that there around 1,200 pilgrims in 22 different groups that had travelled to India before the government banned these pilgrimages on March 9.

The Ministry and it’s missions in New Delhi and Chennai are “coordinating and facilitating the arrangements for the early return of Sri Lankan Buddhist pilgrims currently in India.”

These measures come in the wake of the travel and other restrictions that have arisen due to the rapidly spreading Covid-19, the statement said.

There was no mention of any Hindu pilgrims who also travel frequently to India to worship at shrines, particularly in Tamilnadu and Kerala states.

“The Sri Lanka Diplomatic Missions are closely in touch with the Sri Lankan Buddhist monks at the Buddhist pilgrimage sites in North India and the tour groups themselves. The tour groups have been requested to expedite their return travel arrangements in view of the evolving situation” it added.

Most of these pilgrims are scheduled to return through New Delhi and Chennai in the coming few days. The Missions are facilitating their return travel including through discussions with the relevant airlines, with a view to rescheduling of tickets. (Colombo, March 17, 2020)    

– Arjuna Ranawana

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