Chennai: Toeing the Centre's line for cordial ties with Sri Lanka, key UPA ally DMK chief M Karunanidhi on Wednesday virtually blamed Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa for attacks on Lankan pilgrims, saying her action in sending back a football team from that country had led to the incidents.
"(Jayalalithaa's) efforts to show that this government is concerned for Sri Lankan Tamils by sending back the football players led to attacks on pilgrims" forcing Colombo to issue an advisory to its citizens against travelling to Tamil Nadu, Karunanidhi said.
The DMK patriarch said sports and cultural ties should be kept away from politics.
The DMK chief said because Jayalalithaa sent back a football team from Sri Lanka, such incidents are happening in the country.
"It is not acceptable that we Tamils, who are not opposed to any national race, attack people on pilgrimage and cultural exchange but we will continue to oppose Sri Lanka's action against humanity," he said and appealed for calm in the interest of the 'Eelam Tamils'.
He said actions spurred by emotions will result in "unwanted consequences".
"The relations between Tamils of Sri Lanka and those in the state are often described as that of an umbilical cord. In such circumstances, suddenly sending back the Sri Lankan players and attacks on pilgrims will affect bilateral relations," he said in a statement.
"With lakhs of Tamils in Sri Lanka already suffering to survive under present circumstances, we should not create a situation that would further increase their difficulties."
Karunanidhi's statement comes against the backrop of 178 Lankan pilgrims on a visit to the state being targeted thrice by pro-Tamil outfits on Monday and Tuesday. The pilgrims faced two protests and an attack on three buses carrying them to the Tiruchirapalli airport on Tuesday.
Jayalalithaa had on Sunday ordered sending back a football team from Royal College, which played a friendly against Customs department in Chennai on Friday last. She had also directed that eight students of a Lankan school who had come for a tournament with a city-based school be sent back.
A spokesperson of the External Affairs Ministry had in Delhi said on Tuesday that people-to-people contacts were integral part of close historical, cultural, ethnic and civilisational ties between India and Sri Lanka.
Karunanidhi also recalled India's assurance that Lankans visiting India will be given adequate protection.
He said a UN team was scheduled to visit Sri Lanka to take stock of the situation by meeting war-affected Tamils and creating "unnecessary problems," in such a time would only harm the Lankan Tamils.