“It is up to State government to take a decision’’

Where will the four Sri Lankans – Murugan, Santhan, Jayakumar and Robert Payas – life convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, go in the event of their release?

This question is being discussed in legal circles in the wake of the State government’s announcement that the Cabinet had decided to release all the seven convicts in the case.

According to the director of the Prisoners Rights Forum, P. Pugalenthi, one possibility was that the Foreigners Act provided for the authorities to order the stay of the islanders at a particular place, such as a designated suburb, subject to certain conditions. For this, an order needed to be passed. The Sri Lankans could stay at the place, but should register themselves with the local police station. The authorities would impose conditions relating to their movements.

The other option was to put the four islanders in the Special Camp for refugees. It was now for the State government to take a decision in the matter, Mr.Pugalenthi said.

According to police sources, the four Sri Lankan nationals would have to be accommodated in special or ordinary refugee camps.

he practice has been that refugees with a criminal background are lodged in the special camps where free movement is restricted.

“While the State would not recommend their deportation, it is not possible to issue them a passport to facilitate migration to any other country. The only option is to house them in refugee camps. However, those having family or relatives in the State can stay with them,” a police official said.

Thanking the Chief Minister Jayalalithaa for announcing the move to release the convicts, the Working Group on Human Rights in India and the UN national convener Henri Tiphagne said in case some of the convicts had no family or relatives in Tamil Nadu, human rights organisations like the People’s Watch would be willing to generously provide long-term shelters and surety for all those who required the same.

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