Tuesday, February 28, 2012

TAMIL NADU: Refugee relocation on the fast track

Published in The New Indian Express, Chennai on Feb 28, 2012:
CHENNAI: A relay-hunger fast agitation by five Lankan Tamil inmates of  the Chengalpet Special Detention Camp drew an official response on Monday, the eighth day of protest.
According to sources, a team of 10 officials including the Revenue Divisional Officer and Tahsildar from Kancheepuram district and police officers from the Q-Branch and local police met the five fasting Lankans and promised to release them within 45 days from the special camp to normal camps.
Seeking Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa’s intervention for their immediate relocation to normal camps from Chengalpet Special Detention Camp, five inmates - Ramesh (Jaffna), Sekar (Mannar), Selvaraja (Mullaithivu), Sivakumar (Mannar) and Bismi (Kandy) - have been sitting on a relay-hunger fast since last Monday. Besides Bismi, who came to India for pursuing his higher studies at Tiruchy and was put in the camp for overstaying six months ago, the other four members have been detained at the special camp for more than a year now under different charges, including passport-related and alleged smuggling of detonators to Sri Lanka.
According to information trickling out of the camp, Sivakumar, one of the five inmates who sat on the fast seeking release, had been already acquitted by a local court in Rameswaram on passport-related charges about three months ago and then reportedly detained in the camp under other charges. Sivakumar’s ailing mother lives at Puthupattu Refugee Camp in Villupuram district and often visits her son at special camp.
Speaking to Express over phone from  the Valavanthankottai Refugee Camp in  Tiruchy, Rupa, the sister of Ramesh (one of the detainees) said, “My brother is already 34 and due to the detention at special camp, his marriage has been delayed.”
“We appeal to the Chief Minister to consider all the detainees cases with a kind heart and provide a solution to their families,” Rupa added.

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