The Coast Guard will apprehend Sri Lankan nationals, including Tamils [who claim to be refugees], if they enter the Indian waters without valid documents.

Speaking to TheHindu on Thursday, Commandant D.S. Saini, Commanding Officer, Coast Guard Station, Mandapam, said it had been decided to enforce the maritime law vigorously. Taking into account the aspects of coastal security, it was not advisable for Sri Lankans, including Tamils, to enter the Indian waters claiming to be refugees. They would not be allowed to land on the shore.

Mr. Saini said that the Sri Lankan Tamils, who pretended to be refugees, used to pay around Rs.50,000 as transportation fee for being ferried illegally to Rameswaram. If they wanted to seek refugee status, they could follow legal methods.

He said the focus of security would be shifted to the Adam's Bridge area and a few stretches in the Gulf of Mannar that had established routes for carrying refugees. Round-the-clock monitoring would be maintained in these areas.

At least one vessel, either a hovercraft or speed boat, would be stationed on the 5th island near the International Maritime Boundary Line.

Mr. Saini said the main aim was to prevent the arrival of illegal entrants under the guise of refugees. There was an urgent need to regularise boats and fishermen, particularly country boat fishermen.

Most of them ventured into the sea without intimating the authorities. A comprehensive mechanism had to be found out to streamline the boats.

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