Two Lankan armed forces officers undergoing training at a defence institute in Tamil Nadu on Monday evening returned to Colombo after their government refused an offer from New Delhi to shift them to another state. The two officers,Wing Commander M S Bandara Dassanayek and Major C S Harischandra Hettiarachchige,have been undergoing training at the Defence Service Staff College in Wellington since May 27.
This had sparked protests in the state after Tamil Nadu political parties came to know about it. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa had written to the Prime Minister objecting to their presence.
This led New Delhi to make an offer to the Sri Lanka government to shift the two officers to a training facility in Secunderabad,Andhra Pradesh. But Sri Lanka refused the offer and recalled its men.
The Sri Lankan defence ministry,in a statement,said the officers are returning home prematurely. It said due to some security concerns,the Indian government had offered to transfer the officers from DSSC Wellington to Higher Defence Management Course (HDMC) in the College of Defence Management,Secunderabad. HDMC is normally followed by senior officers in the rank of Colonel and is a higher course in scope, the statement said.
Though the Lankan government has said that this would not hamper the training partnership between the armed forces of the two nations,the incident has caused some unease in New Delhi. Apparently,South Block,which has been careful to distance its bilateral relations from the political rhetoric,is alarmed at the turn of events. Sources said armed soldiers on 20 trucks escorted the two officers and their family members from Wellington to Coimbatore,from where they took a flight to Sri Lanka.