RAMESHWARAM, INDIA, JUNE 2 -- Indian Red Cross officials today delayed loading supplies onto boats bound for Jaffna after the Sri Lankan government decided to treat the gesture as a violation of Sri Lanka's sovereignty.

Twenty fishing vessels filled with food and medical supplies were to be sent from this southeast Indian coastal town Wednesday in a convoy as relief for the besieged Jaffna peninsula.

The Sri Lankan government's decision today to treat the Indian gesture as a hostile act raised fears of a confrontation.

Dr. M. Gupta, head of the Indian Red Cross team scheduled to ferry the supplies to Jaffna, told reporters gathered here, "We will not take supplies over unless the Sri Lankan government permits us."

The decision to send the convoy does not, however, rest with him, but in New Delhi. Government officials accompanying the Red Cross mission were equally emphatic in private conversations that the convoy would be sent.

Officially, they cautioned patience, saying, "Wait and watch until the morning." Maheshwary Velayutham, secretary of the Tamil Information Center in Madurai city, said, "I think India will now step in decisively, and we welcome it." His group monitors charges of human rights violations in Sri Lanka.