In what could be described as a landmark development in the path to reconciliation in the once volatile island nation Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena jointly inaugrated newly-renovated Duraiappah Stadium in Jaffna on Saturday. While Sirisena was present at the stadium in Jaffna, Modi joined the event through video-conferencing from New Delhi. "The Duraiappah Stadium is not just brick and mortar. Duraiappah Stadium embodies the spirit of our cooperation. Indeed, India's support for Sri Lanka's development is a promise of our friendship. And, that it will be based on your priorities and your needs is an assurance that you can rely on. This is what makes our enduring ties relevant to our present, as also to our future," Modi in his remarks from Delhi. He was the first Indian PM to visit Jaffna when he was in Sri Lanka in 2015.
Reiterating the need for unity and plurality in Sri Lanka, once ravaged by ethnic war, the PM noted, "India's desire is to see an economically prosperous Sri Lanka. A Sri Lanka where unity and integrity; peace, harmony and security; and equal opportunity and dignity prevails throughout the country among all its people." The Duraiappah Stadium, named in honour of a former mayor of Jaffna, late Alfred Thambirajah Duraiappah, has been renovated by the Indian government at a cost of over Rs 7.1 crore.
A member of Sri Lanka Freedom Party (to which the current President also belongs) Duraiappah was an MP in the island nation and was assassinated by Tamil rebels in 1975 in Jaffna which marked beginning of cycle of violence in Lanka.