COLOMBO: Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena invoked Lord Buddha’s principles to convince the joint opposition to drop their plan to show black flags to Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit here next week.
“Are they Buddhists?” Sirisena asked with regards to those calling for the protest during Modi’s visit on May 12 to Sri Lanka, a Buddhist-majority nation.
The joint opposition has called for a black flag protest during Modi’s visit to take part in the celebrations marking the UN ‘Vesak Day’, which commemorates the birth, enlightenment, and death of Buddha, the Colombo Gazette said.
Sirisena said everyone must understand that strengthening the Indo-Lanka ties established since introduction of Buddhism in Lanka, does not mean that Lanka is bowing down to India.
The president asserted that he will not sign any deal with any country which is detrimental to Sri Lanka.
He said that he came into power not to hand over a part of the country to another country or to annul the privileges and rights of the citizens by signing unfavorable agreements with other countries.
Joint opposition Parliamentarian Wimal Weerawansa had said Modi was to discuss a deal with the government during his visit.
Weerawansa said India and Sri Lanka are discussing a deal on Trincomalee which he says must be opposed, the report said.
The Sri Lankan government had earlier said that it will go ahead with plans to sign a deal with India to jointly operate a strategic oil facility in the eastern port district of Trincomalee despite opposition from other parties.
Weerawansa urged all those who oppose the deal to raise black flags in protest of Modi’s visit.
“They are trying to sell Sri Lanka to India,” he said.
He also called on joint opposition supporters to take to the streets and push for an early election.
Former president Mahinda had described the proposed deal as a “betrayal” of Sri Lanka’s national asset.
Modi is due to visit Sri Lanka on May 12 to attend the UN Vesak Day celebration in Colombo.
On the sidelines of the celebrations, he is expected to attend a series of religious and other events including the opening of a new hospital in Dickoya, funded by India.
According to a report in a local media, nearly 6,000 police officers have been deployed to provide security for Prime Minister Modi and for other related events during his visit to the country.
The deployment includes ordinary police officers, the Special Task Force (STF) and the officers who have specialised knowledge in VVIP security.
“No acts of sabotage can be carried out during the Indian Prime Minister’s visit. The Police have been strictly instructed to pay special attention to the matter,” Inspector General of Police Pujith Jayasundara was quoted as saying.