Colombo, June 15 (newsin.asia): In a unique experiment in bridge-building between the armed forces of India and Sri Lanka, a 159-member group of Indian military officers with their spouses arrived here on Saturday for a holiday even as a batch of 162 Sri Lankan military officer and their spouses left for India on a similar trip.
The arrival of Indian military personnel and their spouses so soon after the April 21 multiple suicide attacks on a tour of this kind sends out a strong message to the world that normalcy has returned to Sri Lanka
The two groups, which had drawn officers from the army, navy and the air force, were received and seen off by the Indian High Commissioner Taranjit Singh Sandhu and the Commander of the Sri Lankan army Lt.Gen.Mahesh Senanayake.
It was Gen.Senanayake who initiated this unique project opening up a new vista in Indo-Lankan military ties. Last year, Sri Lankan tri-services personnel had gone with their spouses to India. This year, the India reciprocated the gesture, even providing the aircraft for it.
The Indian delegation comprised of 95 Army, 32 Navy and 32 Air Force persons. They will visit places of tourist interest in the hill capital and the South before they return to India on Tuesday, June 18.
Similarly, the Sri Lankan delegation is expected to pay homage to the Buddha at Bodhgaya on Sunday June 16 Poson Poya day. The Sri Lankan delegation will also visit several other places of Buddhist and tourist interest.
This is the biggest-ever tri services Indian delegation with their family members undertaking a visit of this nature expressing their solidarity with Sri Lanka, particularly in the aftermath of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s goodwill visit to Sri Lanka on June 9.
A special flight of the Indian Air Force has been made available for this reciprocal mission of goodwill, thanks to the prevailing sound bilateral relations between the Sri Lanka Army and the Indian Army.
Last year, a smaller group of Sri Lanka army personnel went on a similar pilgrimage to India following facilitation made by the Indian Army, a novel initiative launched by the Sri Lanka Army.
At the Colombo airport, both Indian High Commissioner and the Commander of the Army shared their thoughts on the reciprocal project and its contribution to the promotion of friendly ties among members of tri services in both countries.
The Defense Advisor in India High Commission to Sri Lanka, Capt. Ashok Koteswara Rao, Senior Officers including Major General Jayantha Seneviratna, Adjutant General, Brigadier Jayanath Jayweera, Director Personnel Administration and Brigadier A.I Marasinghe, Director Movement were at the airport to welcome and see off the officers and their families.
(The featured image at the top shows Indian High Commissioner Taranjit Singh Sandhu and Sri Lankan Army chief, Lt.Gen.Senanayake with the Indian delegation)