SL to bring back 1,200 pilgrims from India


Measures are being taken in collaboration with Sri Lankan diplomatic missions in India to bring back some 1,200 Sri Lankan Buddhist pilgrims belonging to 22 tour groups, the Foreign Relations Ministry said today.

The Ministry said the High Commission in New Delhi and the Deputy High Commission in Chennai, in consultation with the Foreign Relations and the Buddha Sasana Ministries, are effectively coordinating and facilitating the arrangements for the early return of Sri Lankan Buddhist pilgrims currently in India.

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

“According to the information gathered by the diplomatic missions, there are approximately 1,200 Sri Lankan Buddhist pilgrims belonging to 22 tour groups currently in India. These pilgrims had arrived in India before the Government of Sri Lanka suspended Dambadiva pilgrimages on 09 March 2020,” the ministry said.

“However, these numbers, secured by contacting Sri Lankan Buddhist temples in India and tour groups themselves, may have some duplication in certain instances, given that some tour groups are on the move.

The 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.

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,” the ministry said.