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'Sri Lanka is part of India,' Sri Lankan minister says in India

Despite proclamations from Sri Lankan politicians on protecting their sovereignty and territorial integrity, minister for tourism Harin Fernando speaking at a recent event said that  “Sri Lanka is a part of India.”

The controversial rhetoric comes at a time when India’s business interest in Sri Lanka is growing with a recent announcement that India is eyeing major investments in three of Sri Lanka’s international airports. Fernando also told The Hindu newspaper that the Adani group was negotiating with Sri Lankan authorities to manage three airports in the country. “The modalities are being discussed between the two sides and could involve management contracts as well,” he said. 

The airports being offered include the Bandaranaike International Airport, the Ratmalana Airport, and Mattala Airport. “We are targeting 2.3 million tourists in 2024 and we are quite hopeful we can reach the target by 2030," Fernando added. "That is why we have to go for massive development projects.” Several Indian companies are already involved in various sectors in Sri Lanka, such as fuel tanks and solar energy.

At the event, Fernando went on to tell the audience that Sri Lanka was much cheaper than Mumbai, so those living in Mumbai should consider selling up in Mumbai and coming to Sri Lanka.

India’s involvement in Sri Lanka’s domestic affairs has been met with criticism in the past by Sinhala hardline nationalists. A recent visit by the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) illustrated the contentions. Senior JVP leader Vijitha Herath who was on the tour with party leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake went on to hold a press briefing where he clarified that the party will protect its territorial integrity at all costs, despite visiting Delhi. 


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