The Sri Lankan High Commissioner has slammed Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa's demand that no player from his country features in Indian Premier League (IPL) matches in the state, alleging the protests are engineered by those wanting to provoke trouble.
The AIADMK supremo on Tuesday asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to advise the IPL officials that no player, official, umpire or support staff from Sri Lanka lands in the state for the tournament.
"All the protests in Tamil Nadu against Sri Lanka is externally driven by those who support separatism in Sri Lanka," Prasad Kariyavasam, Sri Lankan High Commissioner to India, told Mail Today in an exclusive interview.
"Not only Sri Lankan players, we have asked India to provide security to all Lankans who visit Tamil Nadu." Jayalalithaa, in her letter to the Prime Minister, had written: "In view of the popular antipathy and anger in Tamil Nadu against the actions of the government of Sri Lanka, the government of Tamil Nadu is of the view that IPL matches involving Sri Lankan players, umpires and other officials should not be played in Tamil Nadu."
She said her government will not allow these matches to be held in the state if Sri Lankan players participated in them.
"The government of Tamil Nadu will permit IPL matches to be held in Tamil Nadu only if the organisers provide an undertaking that no Sri Lankan players, umpires, officials or support staff would participate in these matches," the chief minister added.
Chennai, home to Super Kings, is scheduled to host 10 IPL matches this season.
Kariyavasam was of the view that the protests against Sri Lankan cricketers were due to vested interests. "Mixing of sports and politics is not a good idea," he said. "We are concerned about the safety of our citizens, but the matter of Sri Lankan players is between the IPL and the two cricket boards. We expect that the Indian government will ensure the safety of all innocent Lankan civilians visiting India."
The envoy said that with the spate of protests, the number of Sri Lankans visiting India has gone down. The Sri Lankan issue has become a diplomatic headache for the UPA government and India was forced to vote against Sri Lanka at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.