Inmates of a Sri Lankan Tamil refugee special camp at Poonamallee in Tiruvallur district should be permitted to stay there till the State government takes a decision on a representation by them for their transfer to Gummidipoondi camp, the Madras High Court ordered on Wednesday.

Justice K.K. Sasidharan passed the order on a writ petition by an inmate Suresh Kumar, who sought to restrain the authorities from transferring the refugees who were staying at Poonamallee for the past two years, to Tiruchirappalli camp. The petitioner said the refugees should be transferred either to the camp at Gummidipoondi or Puzhal, near here.

The petitioner said he suffered from paralysis as his spinal cord was damaged at a young age. He wanted to take expert treatment. When he was staying at Pozhichalur here, he was arrested in December last year and produced before the Judicial Magistrate at Tambaram. Along with him, three others were arrested. It was not possible for him to live without other’s help. He alleged that the land adjacent to the camp was being developed by a real estate promoter. In view of the presence of the camp, it would not be possible for the promoter to sell the flats. This appeared to be the reason for shifting the camp inmates to Tiruchirappalli.

In the counter, the State denied the petitioner’s claim that he had a damaged spinal cord. The petitioner was a hardcore LTTE cadre. He had worked in the Tigers’ electronics wing. During the civil war in Sri Lanka, he was seriously injured. However, he was able to handle laptops and computers. The eight inmates of Poonamallee camp have to be shifted to Tiruchi as the prison authorities wanted to use the special camp to accommodate the Borstal inmates of the Saidapet sub-jail. Hence, a decision was taken to close the Poonamallee camp.

Mr. Justice Sasidharan said in case the family members were living near the jail or the special camp, they would be in a position to meet the inmates. The special camp inmates were not prisoners in the strict sense of the term. The government had put the islanders in the camp considering various factors. He said the petitioner and other inmates could make a representation to the Secretary, Public Department (SC), with a request to transfer them to the Gummidipoondi camp. If the representation was made, it should be considered on merits.

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