Sri Lankan Tamil Refugee: Notice to Centre, TN govt.



(August 01, Chennai, Sri Lanka Guardian) A public interest writ petition, alleging that Sri Lankan Tamil refugees in Tamil Nadu are meted out “hostile and inhuman treatment”, and that they should be allowed to own land, bank accounts and driving licences, has been filed in the Madras High Court.

The first bench, comprising Chief Justice A K Ganguly and Justice F M Ibrahim Kalifulla, before which the petition filed by F Gnanaprakasam came up for admission on Thursday, directed the Additional Solicitor-General of India to enter appearance on behalf of the Centre and make submissions. The bench has ordered notices, returnable by three weeks.

Gnanaprakasam, who is in India as a refugee for over 18 years now, contended that refugees who had purchased immovable properties with their hard-earned money were now being forced to sell them at throwaway prices. “The union home secretary and the state chief secretary have initiated action restricting the refugees staying all over Tamil Nadu from holding any immovable and movable properties, including driving licences and bank accounts. All refugees owing immovable properties were asked not to hold them, and the property details, including the title deeds, have been confiscated under instructions from these officials,” he said.

The regional transport officials have been directed to confiscate the driving licences issued to Sri Lankan Tamil refugees, the petitioner alleged, adding that they were being restricted from possessing more than Rs 500 and rearing animals. “If such restrictions are implemented strictly, the life of Sri Lankan refugees shall not only be confined to the refugee camps, but shall also be reduced to inanimate life. The Sri Lankan refugees are innocent people driven out of their own country, out of racial discrimination and they do not belong to any militant group or organisation,” Gnanaprakasam contended.

Claiming that even government educational institutions were denying admission to children of refugees, he said, the Anna University had rejected the applications of Sri Lankan Tamil refugees, stating that they were not Indian citizens. “As the Government of India has accorded refugee status, they are entitled to full protection and no discriminatory treatment against us could be justified,” he said.

Reiterating that the Sri Lankan refugees in Tamil Nadu were living in “very hostile atmosphere and torturous conditions,” Gnanaprakasam wanted the court to direct the government to ensure due protection to the lives and liberty of refugees in the state by permitting them to possess immovable properties, driving licence, bank accounts and educational rights”.
- Sri Lanka Guardian

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