Up to 21 Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka arrived in Tamil Nadu’s Rameswaram during the early hours of Sunday, 10 April. The refugees were found at a sand mound in Dhanushkodi near Rameswaram.
The Indian Coast Guard and the Tamil Nadu Marine Police took them into custody and interrogated them at the Mandapam police station, IANS reported. Police officials told IANS that the refugees reached Indian shores in two fishing boats.
The refugees are most likely to be shifted to the Mandapam refugee camp, as the Tamil Nadu government has taken a position that the Sri Lankan Tamil refugees need not be jailed.
Four other Sri Lankan Tamils – a family including a man, his wife and two children – who reached the Indian shores on Saturday were also lodged in the Mandapam refugee camp. Last week, 16 refugees had arrived from Jaffna and Kokkupadaiyan.
Ever since a massive economic crisis hit Sri Lanka, at least 41 refugees have reached the Indian shores. Considering the possibility of more refugees arriving in the coming days, the Tamil Nadu government is planning to increase the number of refugee camps in the state.
However, it may be noted that India had not signed the 1951 UN Convention Relation to the Status of Refugees, and hence has no law in place for refugees.
As the crisis in the neighbouring nation continues to escalate, questions arise as to what the future might hold if more refugees are to reach the country.
According to a Business Standard report on 9 April, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin has sent directives to several state government departments, asking them to be ready for the arrival of more Tamils from Sri Lanka.
Despite the Tamil Nadu government’s position, however, it is impossible for the state to take the final decision on what is to be done with the refugees arriving to the country, since the onus of decisions concerning refugee status rests with the Union government.
(Published in arrangement with The News Minute.)
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