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* Sri Lankan President to leave for India this Friday on a religious visit
Tue, Feb 5, 2013, 09:42 am SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Feb 05, Colombo: Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa will leave Friday for India on a religious visit.

The President will visit Bodh Gaya in Bihar and Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh on February 8, the government media unit said.

Sri Lanka High Commissioner to India Prasad Kariyawasam has said that the President is expected to meet the Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar during his visit to Bodh Gaya.

The High Commissioner has said that number of Sri Lankan pilgrims visiting Bodh Gaya has increased in recent times strengthening the friendly relations and religious reconciliation between India and Sri Lanka.

The 1,500-year-old Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya where Buddha attained Enlightenment is considered Buddhism's holiest shrine. The Temple was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2002.

Meanwhile, the Tamil political parties in Tami Nadu State have vowed to protest the President's visit to India.

The Tamil Eelam Supporters Organization (TESO), a pro-Eelam organization led by the DMK party leader M. Karunanidhi, said it will wear black and stage a protest on February 8 in Chennai against the President Rajapaksa's India visit.

Pro-LTTE Tamil Nadu politician and MDMK leader Vaiko announced that the group will hold a picketing at Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's residence in Delhi and also would stage black flag protest in Tirupati.

However, Hindu Munnani Tamil Nadu unit leader Rama Gopalan has said that no one should object the religious visit by the President Rajapaksa.

Pro-Eelam Tamil parties of Tamil Nadu also protested President Rajapaksa's visit last September to Sanchi in Madhya Pradesh of India.

The pro-LTTE Tamil parties in Tamil Nadu oppose Sri Lankan President's visit as they hold him responsible for the death of thousands of Tamils in Sri Lanka towards the final stages of the civil war.

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