The Sri Lankan government has given 50 birth certificates, 130 citizenship certificates and 60 passports to Sri Lankan refugees living in refugee camp in Rameswaran on Saturday, the Hindu reported.
The Deputy High Commissioner R.K.M.A. Rajakaruna said Tamil was not an official language of the country at the time when Tamil left Sri Lanka to seek refuge in the shores of Tamil Nadu. However, the situation has changed now and Tamil has attained the status of official language on a par with Sinhala.
“The military presence in North has been drastically reduced. The claim of militarisation is only an academic theme. There are no soldiers at every house or under every tree as claimed by anti-Sri Lanka elements,” Mr Rajakaruna said.
While the Eastern Province is being rebuilt through a mega-development programme, ‘Kilakkin Udhayam’ another programme ‘Vadakkin Vasantham’ bringing in development to the Northern Province.
The Deputy High Commission also screened a film on rehabilitation and reconstruction going on in the country with the help of the army, seeking to reassure the refugees that situation had become normal for them to return. The film included a scene in which army personnel offer worship at a well-decorated temple.
The founder of Organisation for Eelam Refugees Rehabilitation (OfERR), S.C. Chandrahasan, who frequently visits Sri Lanka, told the refugees that he had come across a lot of graduates who had taken their degrees in Tamil Nadu who had been absorbed in the government departments.
“We have a duty for our country and a role to play,” he said, regretting that exaggerated reports and incorrect information about the ground realities were preventing Tamil refugees from making a decision on their return.
Though many refugees shared Mr Chandrahasan’s optimism, a section of the new generation born and brought up in India finds it extremely difficult to return for more reasons than one.
“I will go there one day. But my son, who is doing his engineering here, spurned our proposal. He argues that India is his country and when there is a cricket match between India and Sri Lanka, he supports only India. I also feel it will be difficult for him to adapt to the food available in Sri Lanka as he enjoys sambar and idli,” says a volunteer who works for OfEER.
Another girl, pursuing her graduation through correspondence, wanted to go to Sri Lanka only to make preparation for her settlement in the UK, where she has relatives.
Mr. Chandrahasan, however, stressed the need for them to return and wanted the Sri Lankan government to dispense with the practice of charging Rs 25,000 for issuing birth certificates from refugees who have crossed 18 years of age.