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No hotel rooms for Lankan pilgrims; Chennai police diktat?

By Anita
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    Tamil Nadu
    Chennai, Aug 8: In what can be called insult to injury, Lankan pilgrims who arrived in Chennai were denied hotel rooms to stay following a so-called order by the Chennai City Police that bans hotels from giving them rooms as guests.

    This comes after there were two planned attacks against the Lankan pilgrims over the last couple of months. In two separate incidents, a group attacked a pilgrim group wearing t-shirts with the Sinhalese script and were assaulted and made to remove their shirts to burn them. In another such incident, 4 Buddhist monks were attacked by cadres of the Periyar Dravida Kazhagam at Maha Bodhi Society in Egmore.

    Throwing open the spat between the Sri Lankan government and the Chennai state administration wide open, it has been reported that this move is an open act stating that the police are not responsible for the safety of Lankan pilgrims in the state.

    Hoards of pilgrims from the island nation are arriving in the state to take part in the celebrations at the Maha Bodhi Society in Chennai. Officials of the society have been quoted as saying, "A few hotels and lodges in North Chennai are denying rooms to the pilgrims from the Maha Bodhi Society, citing orders from the police."

    With the pilgrim season already underway from the end of July, the blanket ban is leading to a lot of inconvenience for the pilgrims with no place to stay. The Maha Bodhi Society is a Buddhist society that has a residential capacity of only 250 people forcing them to look out for alternate options. 

    The police have however denied any such order passed by police officials and the claim was backed by Additional Commissioner of police (law and order) Thamarai Kannan.

    Officials from the Maha Bodhi Society have been quoted as saying, "Two pilgrimage organisers in Sri Lanka were forced to cancel their bookings after a hotels in Egmore and other localities in north Chennai turned down their request for rooms. A few pilgrimage organisers have cancelled their visits to Chennai and instead headed for Delhi en route to Bodhgaya. Around two lakh pilgrims visit the society every year. There is every chance that the numbers will fall if this persecution continues."

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