Five inmates of the special camp for Sri Lankan Tamil refugees in Chengalpattu were shifted to a new camp in Trichy on Tuesday. The move comes amid the government’s decision to hand over the Chengalpattu and Poonamallee camps to the State prisons department.
The special camp in Chengalpattu, which is under the control of ‘Q’ Branch police, had 43 Sri Lankan Tamils facing charges in various cases. On Tuesday, around 9 pm, five inmates — P Ela Nehru (44), Ilangainathan, Selvaraj, Thavadeepan and Soundararajan — were asked to get into a tempo van, which took them to a new camp adjacent to the women’s jail in Tiruchy. “We were not given any prior intimation, so we could not inform our family,” said Ela Nehru, who is facing trial under Section 420 for allegedly cheating someone of Rs 1 lakh.
He alleged that Selvaraj, a vegetarian, was forced to eat non-veg food by the police escorts and was later shoved inside the new camp by an inspector. “There are no facilities here and we are accompanied by two policemen whenever we go to answer the call of nature.”
Nehru alleged that they had been shifted because the authorities viewed them as “troublesome” after they questioned the legality of keeping them confined in a special camp. He said that in 1991 the authorities obtained a special order under the Foreigners Act to incarcerate Sri Lankan Tamils falling under four categories — those seen as posing a threat to any VIP, those facing serious cases, refugees not registered with police or at a refugee camp or those having links with banned outfits. “However, contrary to the order, many are kept in the special camp even after cases against them are over. Some don’t have any cases against them,” Nehru claimed.
Some have been charged with cheating to the tune of Rs 2,000, for which the punishment is only three months. But they have been incarcerated for more than a year, he pointed out. Among the longest serving inmates are Ilangainathan (four years) and Nandakumar (three years), he said. Besides, as per a Supreme Court order, they should be provided with a cot, fan and food of their country.
“While we do not have any of these facilities, we are not even allowed to meet our lawyers,” he said. G Sampath Kumar, SP, Q Branch, told Express that the decision to shift special camps in Chengalpattu and Poonamallee to Tiruchy and Cheyyar was for “administrative reasons”.
The first batch of five inmates was shifted from Chengelpattu on Tuesday.
The senior police official added that the two special camps would be handed over to the State prisons department, which planned to convert them into a sub-jail and juvenile home, he said. (Source: newindianexpress)