Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Friday directed the Dakshin Kannada Deputy Commissioner (DC) to verify the claim of a group of Sri Lankan repatriates settled in Sullia and Puttur taluks that they were being issued Scheduled Caste (SC) certificates till 2002. The CM asked the DC to submit a report within 15 days.

The Chief Minister, who chaired a meeting convened to discuss the subject and decide on issuing the caste certificates to the repatriates, is stated to have assured a delegation led by Forests Minister Ramanath Rai that the demand of the repatriates would be considered after the DC submits his report.

Mr. Rai said nearly 1,000 Tamil families repatriated from Sri Lanka, Burma and Vietnam under Indo-Ceylon Agreement 1964 and 1974 had settled and were rehabilitated in the rubber plantations in Sullia and Puttur taluks.

“Nearly 50 per cent of these families belong to the Pallan, Parayan and Chakiliyan communities which have been included in the list of Scheduled Castes in Karnataka. Although these repatriates were being issued SC certificates till 2002, it was stopped following a Supreme Court order in 2002 that ruled that SC certificates could not be extended to refugees. But the families’ contention is that they are repatriates and not refugees as they have been living in India since 1964,” he said.

He said that based on the DC’s report the caste certificates will be issued. “This will be helpful to nearly 500 families as they can claim benefits applicable to the SC community,” the Minister said.

Venkappa Gowda, one of the repatriates who was part of the delegation, said the families had staged a protest demonstration for 87 days from March 15, 2013 in front of Sullia Taluk office in support of their demand.

“We withdrew the agitation after our district in-charge Minister Mr Ramanath Rai had assured us that he would get our problem resolved,” said Mr Gowda, who is also Sullia Block Congress president.

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