By G Saravanan
Published in The New Indian Express, Chennai, on January 7, 2012:
CHENNAI: Eight Lankan Tamil refugees, who landed at Jegathapattinam coast in Pudukottai district on a fishing boat, were arrested and later remanded in judicial custody by a local court.The refugees, including three girl children — aged one, seven and nine — landed on Thursday morning.According to sources, they were from Pungudu Island near Jaffna in Northern Sri Lanka. They had sailed into Indian territory for safety.The refugees were Thirukumaran, his wife Rathimalar, their daug-hters Rathika and Nivetha, Nitharsan, his wife Marysusanne, their one-year-old daughter Nitharsana and Jesudasan.While the males were sent to the Tiruchy Central Prison, Judicial Magistrate T Pannerselvam directed the police to lodge the two girl children of Thirukumaran in a juvenile camp in Tiruchy.The magistrate allowed Nitharsana, one-year-old daughter of Nitharsan, to stay with her mother at the Tiruchy Women’s Prison until further orders.The arrest and subsequent remand evoked sharp reactions from the pro-Tamil groups. “I strongly condemn the act as it goes against the principle of natural justice and must be termed inhuman. They should have been sent to a refugee camp instead,” said Seeman, leader of Naam Thamilar Party. Other Tamil organisations, including the Katchatheevu Retrieval Movement, echoed Seeman.While the police produced the refugees before the Aranthangi court on Friday, charging them under the Passport Act, a group of advocates prayed for a direction to send them to a refugee camp. Ten lawyers from Naam Thamilar Party moved different bail petitions for the refugees. However, the court remanded them and postponed their bail hearing to Tuesday.