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TN issues Red alert in coastal areas fearing Lankan refugee influx

- March 25, 2022

Chennai, March 25 (BPNS)

After 16 Sri Lankans have reached Rameswaram and Mandapam on Tuesday, the Tamil Nadu government has issued a red alert in coastal areas to prevent the large inflow of refugees from the Island nation.

It is to be noted that Sri Lanka is engulfed in a domestic economic crisis with prices of essential commodities including milk, rice, and other items costing heavily and the fuel prices shooting up. People have to stand in queues for long hours to get essential items and those without money are left stranded for starvation.

While the three adults who had reached Rameswaram on Tuesday morning were remanded to judicial custody along with two children, the ten who came by night were shifted to the Mandapam camp. This was owing to the directive from the Tamil Nadu government to consider those who arrive as refugees.

A senior officer with the Tamil Nadu government while speaking to IANS said, “ During 1980 and then 2010 during civil wars, Sri Lankan Tamils had come in large numbers to Tamil Nadu, and around 1 lakh people are still in rehabilitation camps in the state. However, according to the United Nations charter of 1951, economic crisis in a country cannot be considered to provide refugee status.”

The Tamil Nadu government has already communicated to the Union government on the status to be accorded to those who reach the state.  Chief Minister, M.K. Stalin while speaking at the state legislative assembly on Thursday said that the state government would act according to the directive from the Union government.

Sources in the Tamil Nadu police said that on Friday morning some Sri Lankan Tamils had reached the mud bound near Rameswaram but were alerted by the Tamil fishermen and then sent back to Sri Lanka. However, the elite ‘Q’ branch of the Tamil Nadu police and the Marine police are taking steps to prevent the large inflow of refugees as, without a proper guideline from the Union government, the state government does not want to enter into an imbroglio.

Meanwhile, fishers at Rameswaram and Mandapam continued their protest over the arrest of Indian fishermen from Tamil Nadu by the Sri Lankan Navy for crossing the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL).

Yesudas, a fishermen leader in Rameswaram while speaking to BPNS said,” While Sri Lankan Tamils are trying to enter into Rameswaram and Mandapam in Tamil Nadu as refugees, the Sri Lankan Navy is continuing to arrest the Indian fishermen and putting them in jail. The Sri Lankans must be considerate to our fishermen who are jailed and boats confiscated creating major crises in their lives. Before giving refugee status to Tamils from Sri Lanka, this has also to be considered by our respective central and state governments.