The arrest of 10 Sri Lankan Tamils, who fled Sri Lanka following persecution, has evoked angry reactions from rights activists and Tamil outfits in Ramanathapuram.
The 10 Lankan Tamils, including five children, who arrived in Dhanushkodi, were arrested under the Foreigners Act and sent to Puzhal Prison in Chennai on May 5. The refugees came in two batches.
Many Tamils have sought asylum in India during the decades-old war between the LTTE and the Lankan defence forces. After the war ended, about 20,000 Lankan Tamils returned to their homeland hoping for a peaceful life, after getting exit permission from the government of India.
Meanwhile, the Indian government stopped receiving Tamils as refugees from 2011, presuming that peace had returned to Sri Lanka.
Thereafter, the Tamils who landed on Indian shores were detained under the Foreigners’ Act and sent to prison.
Sheik Ibrahim, Ramanathapuram district coordinator of People’s Watch, said the Lankan Tamils were not aware of the new rules. The Indian government should give refugee status to Lankan Tamils. They should be allowed to live in the refugee camps and enjoy the benefits provided to other refugees in the camp, he added.
He blamed the Centre for its insensitive approach towards Lankan Tamils when they flee Sri Lanka leaving all their belongings behind, hoping for a peaceful life.
A source at the Special Deputy Collector’s office in Mandapam camp, said the Centre had instructed them not to admit anyone who arrived after 2011 as refugees. (The New Indian Express)