President Ranil Wickremesinghe emphasized the government's commitment to fully integrate the Tamil people living in the hills into Sri Lankan society, with the aim of advancing the nation by uniting all its citizens.
He stated that it is the current government's policy to uphold the rights of all Sri Lankan citizens, regardless of their background. The aim is to build a developed Sri Lanka by bringing everyone together.
He made these remarks addressing the 'Naam 200' celebration at the Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium in Colombo yesterday (02), marking the 200th anniversary of the arrival of the hill Tamil people in the country.
The event was honoured by the presence of Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman who was warmly welcomed by over 5,000 Tamil people from the hills. The celebration featured various cultural elements.
President Wickremesinghe and Indian Finance Minister Sitharaman laid the foundation stone for a project to construct 10,000 houses with Indian aid in the lower part of Dimbula, Mautvernan Estate, Kotagala.
A new auditorium and computer unit at the Hatton Vocational Training Centre were inaugurated virtually.
School equipment was also distributed to students.
The President acknowledged the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for contributing to Sri Lanka's financial stability, praising the support provided for the successful event. He also commended Indian Finance Minister Sitharaman for her dedication to the cause.
Furthermore, the President stated that this celebration marks the beginning of a new journey for the hill Tamil people, and the government is committed to providing them with land titles and ensuring their right to education.
Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, who also spoke at the event, recognized the significant contributions made by the hill Tamil people, particularly in promoting 'Ceylon Tea' and contributing to the development of Sri Lanka over the past 200 years.
He stressed that it is the first time a comprehensive program has been initiated to fully integrate this community into Sri Lankan society.
Indian Finance Minister Sitharaman highlighted the substantial contributions of the Tamil people from the hills to the Sri Lankan economy and expressed readiness for cooperation in the government's efforts to acknowledge and secure their rights.
Jeevan Thondaman, Secretary of the Sri Lanka Labour Congress and Minister of Plantation Infrastructure and Water Supply, emphasized that real changes are necessary to do justice to the Tamil people who have contributed their hard work to strengthen the country's economy. He also expressed gratitude to the Government of India.