Following strong protests by political parties in Tamil Nadu, two Sri Lankan army officers, who were undergoing training at Wellington in Udhagamandalam, boarded a flight from Coimbatore to Chennai on Monday evening.
According to sources, the two officers - Wing Commander MS Bandara Dassanayke and Major CS Harishchandra Hettiarachchige - boarded the 7.30 pm Jet Airways flight.
They were undergoing training at Defence Services Staff College in Wellington. It was strongly opposed by the political parties in the State and Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa had also written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to immediately stop providing training to the Sri Lankan army personnel in Tamil Nadu.
Commotion prevailed on the Airport Road after Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) and Thanthai Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam (TPDK) cadre gathered and raised slogans against the Lankan officers and the Centre.
The protestors alleged that the Union government was still allowing training for the Lankan army officers in Tamil Nadu which hurts the sentiments of Tamils. Police have arrested nearly 60 members of both MDMK and TPDK who attempted to storm the Airport. MDMK leader Vaiko, who arrived in Coimbatore airport before the protest, said the party will continue to hold its protests against the Union government for giving its support to the Lankan government for providing training to its army officers here.
Defence Minister A K Antony, while inaugurating the first fighter aircraft base of the Indian Air Force in Thanjavur on May 27, stated that the country should not train Sri Lankan army officers. However, the same day the training was started for the two army officers in Coonoor.
Earlier, a one-day bandh was observed in Pandalur and Gudalur taluks of Nilgiris district, to pressure the Centre to stop military training to Sri Lankan defence officials at Wellington.