Polling day going to be a special for a resident of Kottapattu refugee camp in Tiruchi

Updated - April 17, 2024 06:50 am IST

Published - April 17, 2024 12:18 am IST - Chennai

K. Nalini

K. Nalini

For K. Nalini, a resident of the Kottapattu camp in Tiruchi district for Sri Lankan refugees, April 19 is going to be a special day. “I am going to exercise my franchise on behalf of the entire community of refugees,” she says.

Ms. Nalini had established before the Madras High Court in September 2022 that she was an Indian citizen. She has enrolled as a voter of the Tiruchi (East) Assembly constituency, which, comes under the Tiruchi Lok Sabha constituency, and had gone to the Madurai Bench of the High Court to secure a passport. It was given to her after she won the case.

Though refugees from Sri Lanka are ordinarily considered “illegal migrants,” Ms. Nalini, who was born in the State in April 1986, was granted citizenship as the year of her birth fell between January 26, 1950 and July 1, 1987. In this period, all those born in India automatically acquired citizenship.

About a year ago, after applying for voter ID through a common services centre, she received it “by post.” At the time of application, she had attached a copy of her passport.

Romeo Roy Alfred, an advocate who has been pursuing cases of refugees, said that another refugee T. Ganesan, who was given the citizenship in November last year through judicial intervention, was making efforts to get a ration card. Mr. Ganesan, who has been living in a camp for Sri Lankan refugees at Irumboothipatty village in Karur district, had established before the court that despite being born in Sri Lanka, he was among those identified for repatriation to India under the 1964 and 1974 bilateral treaties that covered Indian-Origin Tamils (IOT) or hill country Tamils and issued a passport by the Assistant High Commissioner of Kandy in 1982, stating that he was a citizen of India.

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