Sinhala couple seek asylum

The newly- married Sinhalese couple, who landed at Arichamunai under the guise of refugees.  

C. Jaisankar

The Colombo-based couple were accommodated by a Tamil family in Vavuniya after their marriage. War forced them to flee and seek asylum.

RAMANATHAPURAM: Arrival of Sinhala refugees from the Talaimannar coast in Sri Lanka to Dhanushkodi in the southern coast of Tamil Nadu is a rare phenomenon.

Sharuha Bilkani (18) and Dushra Chandana, Sinhalese hailing from Colombo, landed at Arichamunai on Friday night with the hope of starting a new life in a new environment. Though their arrival is termed first of its kind by officials who have been dealing with the Sri Lankan refugees for the last 10 years, it has generated curiosity among refugees and officials. They were reportedly given asylum by a Tamil family in Vavuniya when their parents opposed their love marriage. On arrival, they initially told the police that Chandana was a Tamil from Vavuniya. However, interrogation revealed that both were Sinhalese and had eloped from Colombo.

They claimed to have met at a driving school in Colombo, where Sharuha was taught driving by Chandana. Later, they decided to marry. In the wake of parental opposition, Chandana’s close friend, a Tamil, sent them to his house in Vavuniya. The ongoing war forced them to seek asylum in Tamil Nadu. Vasantha Mari, with whom the couple landed at Arichamunai, told the police that they did not want to go back to Colombo fearing danger to their lives. They had come to India with a group of 19 refugees.

Authorities have decided to file a case against them for violating the Indian Passport Act. S. Kamalabai, Deputy Superintendent of Police, Rameswaram, told The Hindu that if they were Tamils they could be granted the status of refugees. In this case, it was not possible to treat them as refugees.