Free Press Journal

Sinhalese, Tamils have extended hand of friendship: Wigneswaran


Colombo: Tamils in Sri Lanka are willing to take 10 steps if the majority Sinhala community takes one step to protect them, Northern Province Chief Minister CV Wigneswaran said, a day after the country’s national anthem was sung in Tamil after 67 years here. “We are very happy about it. Despite a few problems, Sinhalese and Tamils of late have extended the hand of friendship. I will tell the Sinhalese that if you take one step to provide us protection, We Tamils will take 10 steps to be with you,” Wigneswaran said today.

The 76-year-old Tamil leader visited the only Sinhala majority Buddhist shrine in the northern Jaffna peninsula
dominated by the minority Tamils, saying he chose to visit the Buddhist temple in a note of appreciation of the singing of national anthem in Tamil.

The government action allowing the Tamil version, however, has met with sharp criticism from Sinhala majority nationalists who dubbed it as an action to create a division. The Tamil version of the national anthem was sung yesterday at the national Independence Day ceremony presided by President Maithripala Sirisena here. Last time, Sri Lanka sang the national anthem in Tamil in  1949.

Wigneswaran, a former judge of the Supreme Court, was elected the northern Chief Minister in 2013 by more than 85 per cent votes. He was accused of adopting a hardline since, Sirisena took some measures to ease tensions between the two communities by attempting reconciliation.