The call by the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) to accord permanent resident status for over one lakh Sri Lankan Tamil refugees in the State has triggered more demands from political parties.
Welcoming the resolution adopted by the DMK at a conference last week, D. Ravikumar, general secretary, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi, who had made a study of the conditions of the refugees three years ago, said the measures taken by authorities here would give India a moral right to seek better treatment of internally-displaced Tamils in Sri Lankan camps.
Urging the administration to increase financial assistance for the refugees, Mr. Ravikumar said the State should exert pressure on the Centre to bring out a comprehensive legislation on refugees.
Responding positively to the DMK resolution, S. Ramadoss, Pattali Makkal Katchi founder, asked what follow-up action DMK president and Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi would take to make the resolution a reality.
“Admission of guilt”
D. Pandian, State secretary of the Communist Party of India, termed the resolution an “admission of guilt” that the refugees would not be able to go back to their homeland.
He held the State and Central governments responsible.
Supporting the idea of giving citizenship to the refugees, Mr. Pandian, however, said that even in such an eventuality, the Centre should ensure that the Sri Lankan Tamils’ right to return to their home country was protected. There should be no compulsion on the refugees.
L. Ganesan, Bharatiya Janata Party’s State president, said that spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravisankar had already made a suggestion on similar lines.
With the Sri Lankan government’s war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam over, the Centre should treat the refugees in Tamil Nadu better.
The authorities should relax conditions on them, particularly in matters concerning the search for livelihood opportunities. The Centre should also work for their early return to Sri Lanka.
S.C. Chandrahasan, founder of the Organisation for Eelam Refugees Rehabilitation (OfERR), an NGO that works with Sri Lankan refugees in the State, termed the resolution “goodwill gesture.”
OfERR would start a consultative process entailing discussions in the camps, at the district and regional levels, after which a decision might be made as to how they could respond to the DMK resolution.