They fear for their lives after the army “intensified” search, suspecting revival of LTTE

Ten Sri Lankan Tamils, including five children, clandestinely landed at Arichamunai, off Dhanushkodi, in the early hours of Monday. They said they feared for their lives after the Sri Lankan forces “intensified” search operations in Tamil areas, suspecting revival of the LTTE.

The police said the Tamils arrived in two batches from Mannar in Sri Lanka’s Northern Province by engaging two boats. After dropping them off at Arichamunai or somewhere near by 3 a.m., the boatmen returned to Mannar.

As they could not be given refugee status, the Dhanushkodi police arrested them for entering the country without valid documents, under Section 3(a), read with 6(a), of the Passport (Entry into India) Rules, 1950, and Section 14 of the Foreigners Act, Superintendent of Police N.M. Mylvahanan said.

They were produced at a magistrate court here and taken to the Puzhal Central Prison in Chennai for being remanded in judicial custody, he said.

K. Sudhakaran, 35, who had served in the LTTE for four years till 2000 and hailed from Mullaithivu, arrived with his wife S. Ramekka, 32, daughter Nilakshana,13, and son Mithuran, 7. They left Mannar on Sunday night, hiring the boat for Rs. 1.20 lakh (in Sri Lankan currency).

S. Thayapararaja, 33, a computer engineer of Jaffna, came in another boat with his wife Uthayakala, son Diyaroan, 12, and daughters Dilany, 6, and Dilshiya, 4. S. Thevendran, 34, a driver from Mullaitivu, accompanied the family. They had paid Rs. 50,000 for the trip, they said.

On getting dropped in knee-deep waters, the two families walked for three hours in the dark to the shore separately, before reaching the Dhanushkodi police station, they said.

After the Sri Lankan forces shot dead three men in last April for allegedly trying to revive the rebel movement in the Northern Province, the army intensified the search operations, invoking the Anti Terrorism Act (ATA) and arresting whomever they suspected, Thevendran told The Hindu at the police station. He was not linked to the militant organisation but feared being caught on suspicion, he said. He left behind his wife and two children at Mullaithivu.

Thayapararaja worked as an Assistant Lecturer at the University of Peradeniya in Kandy after graduation. His family was in Killinochchi when the war broke out, and he lost contact with his parents and three sisters.

After spending a month in the Vavuniya camp, he kept moving from place to place, fearing harassment by the army, before deciding to flee to Tamil Nadu. “We have come here for the sake of our children. We thought we can get into a refugee camp and move on, but things look different here,” he said.

‘Wigneswaran powerless’

More Tamils in the Northern Province were waiting to flee to Tamil Nadu as Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran was powerless to protect their interests, they said.

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