Adding a spiritual dimension to Indo-Lankan military diplomacy
Posted on June 24th, 2018

Courtesy NewsIn.Asia

Colombo, June 24 (  A group of 160  Sri Lankan military personnel and their families took off for the Buddhist pilgrimage center of  Bodh Gaya in north India on Sunday for a three-day visit, giving  Indo-Lankan military diplomacy” a new, pleasant and spiritual dimension.

Adding a spiritual dimension to Indo-Lankan military diplomacy

In the first ever journey of this kind, unique in the annals of military to military relations across borders, the group flew by an Indian Air Force  C 17 aircraft from Colombo.  The group will be flown back on Tuesday by the same aircraft.

High Commissioner Sandhu speaking to the pilgrims

The idea of a family pilgrimage for Sri Lankan officers in uniform  was mooted during the visit of the Indian Army chief Gen.Bipin Rawat to Sri Lanka in April and was promptly cleared by the Ministry of Defense.

The Indian High Commissioner Taranjit Singh Sandhu and the Sri Lankan army chief. Lt.Gen. Mahesh Senanayake, saw to it that this unusual step in military diplomacy got  off to a flying start. Both were at the Colombo airport to see off the pilgrims.

The travellers were excited about the special visit, and thanked the Government of India and Indian Army for arranging it.

Indian envoy Taranjit Singh Sandhu with Lankan army chief Lt.Gen. Mahesh Senanayake

Indian Army Spokesperson Aman Anand described it as a triumph of  military diplomacy. All stakeholders have worked overtime to put it together in such a short time. The Government of India is bearing all the related costs. The Sri Lankan personnel will visit the Officers Training Academy (OTA), Gaya, and religious places including Bodh Gaya,” he said.

Among the group, 82 are from Sri Lankan army, 40 from navy and 38 from the Air force.

Lt.Gen.Mahesh Senanayake thanking High Commissioner Taranjit Singh Sandhu

India and Sri Lanka share robust defense ties with large number of Sri Lankan military personnel getting training in India.

This year, India handed over a second advanced off-shore patrol vessel to Sri Lanka. The armies of India and Sri Lanka, along with five other countries will participate in a joint military drill under the BIMSTEC forum in September this year.

(The featured image at the top shows the Indian High Commissioner Taranjit Singh Sandhu and Sri Lankan Army Commander Lt.Gen.Mahesh Senanayake seeing off military officers and their wives at the Colombo airport) 

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