Tamil Nadu

We are sympathetic to Sri Lankan refugees: Union MoS for Home Affairs

Union Minister of State for Home Affairs G. Kishan Reddy

Union Minister of State for Home Affairs G. Kishan Reddy   | Photo Credit: Nagara Gopal

Will render whatever help we can, says G. Kishan Reddy

The Union government, which is “sympathetic” towards Sri Lankan refugees living in Tamil Nadu, will render whatever help it can to them, Union Minister of State for Home Affairs G. Kishan Reddy has said.

Responding to a question on whether the Central government would consider cutting the application fee for obtaining an Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card, as such a move would be beneficial to eligible refugees, Mr. Reddy told The Hindu over the phone that as he was “new” to the department and was not aware of the details of the fee, he would discuss the matter with officials. However, “our sympathy is with the refugees”, he reiterated.

[According to the website of the Bureau of Immigration, which comes under the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, the application fee in respect of applications submitted in India is ₹15,000, and for applications submitted outside the country, the fee is $275, or the equivalent in the local currency, for each applicant].

Renuka Selladurai, a Sri Lankan citizen residing in Tiruchi with an OCI card, said if the Central government came forward to reduce the fee, it will be very helpful to many refugees or fellow Sri Lankans who may be required to remain in the State for a long period of time. More people will be encouraged to obtain the OCI card, she said, citing the decision of the family of a close relative not to apply for the card on the ground of affordability.

Ms. Selladurai explained that the card was generally provided to those of Indian origin, on production of documentary proof. “Barring voting rights and acquisition of agricultural land, OCI cardholders get life-long visa and are as good as Indian citizens,” she pointed out, adding that her daughter had also obtained an OCI card.

The card will come in handy to those who were finding it difficult to land jobs commensurate with their educational qualifications due to the ‘refugee’ tag, said a refugee living in a camp in Tirunelveli district. His brother’s wife had obtained an OCI card recently. The refugee and Ms. Selladurai felt there was a strong case for creating greater awareness about the OCI card scheme.

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Printable version | Jun 7, 2020 7:13:12 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/we-are-sympathetic-to-sri-lankan-refugees-says-union-minister/article30570429.ece

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