Thursday, June 18, 2009

For family, wait gets longer

Published Date: 17/6/2009

G Saravanan

Chennai, June 16: FOR Sethu Kannan’s illiterate wife Kaleeswari and three children, Sarojini, Sudhakar and Suresh, abject poverty will not deter their hope of bringing their father out of a special camp in the city exclusively meant for Lankan refugees.

“We have all the documents, from ration card to passport, to prove that Kannan is an Indian and we will not allow our sole bread winner to languish in the camp under illegal detention,” Kaleeswari told Express over phone from Ramanathapuram.

In the 80s, Kannan went to Lanka for business. As the ethnic crisis escalated, he escaped from Lanka and landed in the Tamil Nadu coast along with Tamil refugees. Ever since, he has been in and out of Lankan refugee camps and jails multiple times.

The cops claimed that he was working for the LTTE. For a few years, Kannan was allowed to rejoin his family in Ramanathapuram district.That is when Kannan got married to Kaleeswari from a nearby village.

This was in the mid-90s and they have three children: a daughter and two sons. With the family’s sole breadwinner now in detention, Kaleeswari’s life changed a lot. She now earns Rs 100 per day as a daily wage labourer and looks after the children and her aged parents.

“When Q Branch picked up my husband outside the in February 2008 (despite bail orders), Kannan assured me that he will be back in six or seven months. Fifteen months have passed by , but he is yet to return,” a visibly shaken Kaleeswari told Express.

“As like other children, we also want our father to be with us on all days,” said his children. Sarojini, who is in Class VIII in a village school, aspires to become a lawyer so that no more Kannans are holed up in special camps illegally.

According to his lawyer Pugalenthi, Kannan’s detention might have happened based on his record as a refugee (at Mandapam camp), since they used to detain Lankan refugees for involvement in smuggling goods to the LTTE.,

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