Two of the most revered Buddhist religious leaders of Sri Lanka have welcomed India's move to carve out Buddhist-majority Ladakh as a Union Territory, stating that it would further strengthen ties between the two countries.
According to Sri Lankan website Daily News, the Mahanayake Theras of the Malwatte and Asgiriya Chapters of the Siyam Nikaya, the two most revered Buddhist religious leaders in the island nation, issued two separate statements on Thursday welcoming New Delhi's historic move.
"This would further strengthen religious, political and cultural relations between the two countries and take them to a higher plane," the statement said.
Tibbatuwawe Sri Siddhartha Sumangala Maha Nayake Thera of the Malwatte Chapter, in his statement, said, "India, which had a pluralistic society, has safeguarded harmony and reconciliation in a salutary manner and its decision to proclaim Ladakh with a 70 per cent Buddhist population as a separate state was a cause for happiness and pride to Sri Lanka, which is a Buddhist country".
While Warakagoda Sri Gnanaratane Mahanayake Thera of the Asgiriya Chapter said that he highly appreciated the decision to declare Ladakh as a separate Union Territory. This would be a boon to Buddhists throughout the world going on pilgrimage to the Ladakh area, he added.
The Indian government on Monday revoked Article 370 which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir and moved a separate bill to split the state into two union territories of Jammu and Kashmir, which would get its own legislature, and Ladakh, which would not.
Reiterating similar appreciation for New Delhi's move over changing the status of the region, Sri Lankan Prime Minister Rl Wickremesinghe had tweeted, "I understand Ladakh will finally become a Union Territory. With over 70% Buddhist it will be the first Indian state with a Buddhist majority."
"The creation of Ladakh and the consequential restructuring are India's internal matters. I have visited Ladakh and it is worth a visit," the prime minister added.
Buddhism is one of Sri Lanka's prominent religions.
( With inputs from ANI )