24 November, 2017

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Comments On Tamils Seeking Refuge In Tamil Nadu

By R Hariharan

 Col. (retd) R.Hariharan

Col. (retd) R.Hariharan

Ten Sri Lankan Tamils, including two women and five children, from Sri Lanka who landed Aricha Munai off the Dhanushkodi coast (Tamil Nadu) on May 5 2014, have been arrested by police for entering the country without passports. After preliminary questioning, they are now lodged in Puzhal jail near Chennai. The media has questioned the decision to arrest them as they had fled from Mullaitivu fearing for their personal safety and sought refuge in India. Previously such refugees used to be screened at Mandapam refugee camp.

The incident raises a number of questions including why it is taking place when the internally displaced persons are being rehabilitated; whether it signifies yet another influx of Sri Lankan refugees to Tamil Nadu five years after the Eelam War; and what are its implications for India.

According to the Tamil Nadu Police Q Branch, all the men – S Thavendran (32) from Mullaitivu, K Thayabararaj (39) and G Sudakaran (32) were former LTTE members. Sri Lanka authorities had detained them after the war and later released them. Both the Centre and State have to be extremely cautious in handling against them as they are former members of the LTTE which continues to be a banned organisation in the country. This important information has not been highlighted in many of the Tamil media reports.

Moreover, they have arrived in Tamil Nadu a few days after the state security apparatus was put on alert after a bomb alert and the arrest of a Sri Lankan Muslim suspected of spying for the Pak ISI in Chennai. That is why probably they have been lodged in prison after preliminary enquiry. According to the media their families are being shifted to a Sri Lankan refugee camp now.

Tamil Nadu has given refuge to over 100,000 Sri Lanka refugees who live both inside and outside refugee camps for over a decade and a half. The refugees get same benefits the average citizen enjoys in the state, including free and subsidised rice, monthly subsistence allowance and old age pension. Over 19,000 of them are India-born and as many as 100 are engineering graduates. In spite of all this except for proximity and for global transit, India is not an attractive destination for fleeing Sri Lankan Tamils. The discouraging aspects include both restriction of their freedom to seek employment elsewhere in India and the restriction that they cannot to stay outside the camp overnight. Added to these irksome restrictions, camp amenities are minimal and they cannot travel overseas for want of travel documents. Though Sri Lanka does issue passports to them they are only meant for their one-way travel back to the home country.

So the arrival of three Tamil families reaching Tamil Nadu to seek refuge in spite these problems is very significant. It an insight to the problems faced by Tamils, more particularly the Tamil Tiger veterans, living in post war Sri Lanka. These include political, social, economic and governance issues.

The environment in Sri Lanka, particularly in the Northern Province does not encourage the return of refugees from India who had been living for over two decades. Even the 11,000 plus refugees who had returned home all these years are not a happy lot. They have painted a grim picture of the environment lacking housing or shelter, jobs or opportunities for earning any livelihood for them. In fact, Sri Lanka seems to give greater priority to the rehabilitation of internally displaced persons of the Eelam War than refugees returning home after a long stay abroad. This can be seen from the plight of Muslim families returning home long after they were expelled by LTTE long before war.

It is true that Sri Lanka had released as many as 13000 former cadres of LTTE after rehabilitation training and selective skill development programmes. Sri Lanka has also developed the infrastructure destroyed during the war in the North. These include roads, rail, power resources, and telecommunication facilities.

But there is hardly any sizeable investment in projects specifically to provide gainful employment to rehabilitated former LTTE youth. As overall rate of unemployment is high, they have little hope of improving their prospects. There are an estimated 90,000 war widows in Sri Lanka with the majority in Northern Province. These women-headed families face not only existential problems but threats of personal safety and sexual exploitation as well.

The army continues to informally dominate the life of ordinary citizens in Northern Province. Military intelligence has a free run to interfere in the daily life of people under the blanket provisions of Prevention of Terrorism Act.  The continued military occupation of prime land of Tamils particularly in Wanni area and the establishment of permanent camps for troops established indicate that things are not going to change in the near future.

The feeling of gloom and doom among the Tamils has increased particularly after the much promised election to the Northern Provincial Council (NPC) failed to improve their plight. Through a dubious mixture of bureaucracy and naked power, Colombo has not allowed the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) government to function effectively to fulfil its election promises that would have addressed issues of employment, personal safety and security. And the continuing friction between Colombo and NPC has dissipated the positive climate generated after the election. The clouds of suspicion vitiating improvement in ethnic relations have become even more opaque strengthening the hands of extreme factions both in Colombo’s ruling coalition as well as the TNA. This become worse after the TNA supported the UNHRC resolution seeking an international probe into Sri Lanka’s alleged war crimes.

Since last year, overseas LTTE elements and acolytes are staging a comeback in Canada and Europe. They talk of Tamil Eelam and glorify Prabhakaran. There increasing political clamour in Tamil Nadu for support to separate Eelam has encouraged overt activity of pro-LTTE elements who have stepped up inflammatory propaganda publicly. To Sri Lanka was basking in the glory of triumphalism at ending LTTE’s 25-year long threat the nation, these developments are causing a lot of unease and even suspicion at India’s intentions in Sri Lanka. Using the information gleaned from interrogations and recovered LTTE documents Security forces have started rounding up former LTTE cadres and sympathisers suspected of helping the revival of LTTE activities in the North and East with assistance from the overseas LTTE supporters.

Suspiciously close to the time the UNHRC was debating the resolution on Sri Lanka, security forces hunted down and killed three ex-LTTE members allegedly working for the LTTE ‘revival’ project. Incriminating documents relating to arms and explosive caches have been recovered from them.

In the follow up operations, hundreds of suspects including a number of women have been rounded up. Many are languishing in prison. As many as 17 Tamil Diaspora organisations have been black listed as pro-LTTE. Over 472 persons have also been individually blacklisted. Any contact with them would attract criminal action. This has crushed the opportunity for involving the Tamil Diaspora leaders inclined to work with Sri Lanka politicians for evolving a win-win solution to benefit the community. The black listing notification and the rounding up of suspects has created panic not only among former LTTE cadres and sympathisers but others as they also can be hauled up anytime by the police.  They fear for their own and their families’ lives is particularly high among former associates of the LTTE. Their fears are realistic as the army seems to have become the final arbiter of many things in Sri Lanka and more so in the North.

So the latest arrival of the three families of Sri Lankan Tamils has to be understood in this larger, complex context. It is not merely anti-Tamil moves by the Rajapaksa government. So it is high time the Tamil media started analysing issues more objectively to evolve positive results to benefit the harassed Tamils in Sri Lanka.

However, former LTTE cadres are unlikely to seek refuge in large numbers in Tamil Nadu as does not welcome them but rounds them up and houses them in controlled environment.  But their families can find safety either inside or outside refugee camps in Tamil Nadu. So it is more likely that former cadres prefer to use India as a refuge for their families only. They would probably use India more as a transit point to join their brethren living elsewhere. But as they are  LTTE veterans, their potential for using Tamil Nadu as springboard to create mischief in Sri Lanka should never be underestimated.

As the general elections are coming to the close, we hope both the Centre and the Tamil Nadu government will quickly get their act together to alleviate the plight of Sri Lanka Tamils. It will require an overall game plan with a series of actions by both India and Sri Lanka to achieve positive results for the benefit of minorities without loss of face to either their country or their people.

*Col. R Hariharan, a retired Military Intelligence specialist on South Asia, served as the head of intelligence of the Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka 1987-90. He is associated with the South Asia Analysis Group and the Chennai Centre for China Studies.   E- mail: colhari@yahoo.com Blog: www.colhariharan.org

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  • 1
    0

    Dear Col. (retd) R.Hariharan,

    “Ten Sri Lankan Tamils, including two women and five children, from Sri Lanka who landed Aricha Munai off the Dhanushkodi coast (Tamil Nadu) on May 5 2014, have been arrested by police for entering the country without passports. “

    What are facts related to this case?

    1. All except the Native Veddah are Paradeshis, Paras in Lanka. That include the Para-Sinhala, para-Tamils and all other Paras who came from their Native South India and India.

    2. So, the retiring paras, should be accommodated in their native land India. Therefore take ALL the Paras from Lanka to India. That way, the Para will not fight in Lanka, and can practice their sacred Hinduism and Hinduism India.

    Para-Sinhala, para-Tamils, Para-Muslims. please go back to your native land, South India and Bihar. Your DNA Proves that.

    Thank You.

    • 0
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      are you too a para

  • 3
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    R Hariharan

    “As the general elections are coming to the close, we hope both the Centre and the Tamil Nadu government will quickly get their act together to alleviate the plight of Sri Lanka Tamils.”

    The Hindian and Tamilnadu governments have been doing just that a alleviating the plight of Sri Lanka Tamils since 1983. We should trust them.

  • 0
    3

    10 tamils selected the right place to have their eelam which is tamilnadu…thanks for going….next time you can have para amASSiri the altar boy, para vedda, para leelawathie, para afzal and other boogies

    • 1
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      go to para orissa forest

    • 1
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      ela kolla

      “10 tamils selected the right place to have their eelam which is tamilnadu …thanks for going”

      I totally agree with you, must be coincidence to see meeting of our minds.

      I am looking forward to the day when their Sinhala/Buddhist brethren too join them in their natural homeland.

      When are you leaving?

      UN can facilitate your journey back to your ancestral home. Hope Navipillai would be glad to arrange you a few Kallathonies.

      Tell us which part of Tamilaham did your ancestors come from? Were they from Coromandel Coast, Ramanathapuram, Malabar coast, Thanjavur Cholamandalam? Were they part of Chola’s Vellaikkara Paddai (mercenaries)or earlier horse traders?

      Probably your ancestors must have been brought to this island by Dutch to mind the cinnamon plantation.

      Find out I am curious.

      • 0
        2

        This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

      • 0
        0

        Native Vedda

        “Tell us which part of Tamilaham did your ancestors come from? Were they from Coromandel Coast, Ramanathapuram, Malabar coast, Thanjavur Cholamandalam? Were they part of Chola’s Vellaikkara Paddai (mercenaries)or earlier horse traders? :”

        There is modern technology available that can trace from which part of Tamil Nadu, Bihar etc the Para -Tamils and Para-Sinhala came from.

        For start they should send for their DNA samples analyzed.

        https://genographic.nationalgeographic.com/

        Since its launch in 2005, National Geographic’s Genographic Project has used advanced DNA analysis and worked with indigenous communities to help answer fundamental questions about where humans originated and how we came to populate the Earth. Now, cutting-edge technology is enabling us to shine a powerful new light on our collective past. By participating in the latest phase of this real-time scientific project, you can learn more about yourself than you ever thought possible. You will also help support the Genographic Legacy Fund, which works to conserve and revitalize indigenous cultures around the world.

        Geno 2.0 – Genographic Project Participation and DNA Ancestry Kit
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        National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Robert Ballard, best known for his discovery of the R.M.S. Titanic, thought he knew everything about his ancestry, with a genealogy that traces back to the British Isles and Holland. While most of his DNA agrees with this story, he learned something unexpected from his Geno 2.0 results—his genome is about 2% Oceanian, connecting him to the first seafarers who settled the islands off the coast of southeast Asia around 50,000 years ago, probably via the Dutch side of his family.

        Geno 2.0 – Genographic Project Participation and DNA Ancestry Kit

        http://shop.nationalgeographic.com/ngs/browse/productDetail.jsp?productId=2001246&gsk&code=MR20936

  • 0
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    Respected Mr.Hariharan

    pl correct “But as they are LTTE veterans, their potential for using Tamil Nadu as springboard to create mischief in Sri Lanka should never be underestimated.” as But as they are LTTE veterans, their potential for using Tamil Nadu as springboard to show the mighty in Sri Lanka should never be underestimated.

    • 0
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      yeah, that is why they ve left SL, because SL might fear their mightyness!

  • 0
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    After the recent killings of Kopi and the three others. In actual fact there is actually no rehabilitation of former LTTE cadres but torture. There will be many more that will join them to save their lives. It is very depressing. Bensen

    • 0
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      It was GOSL mercy of those who surrendered to Army was given rehabilitation. otherwise they should have been prosecuted and punished for all the crimes what they had done.. all their hands are full of blood

  • 1
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    According to this they are not genuine refugees. They worked for srilankan army http://athirvu.com/target_news.php?getnews=news&action=fullnews&showcomments=1&id=6806

  • 1
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    dear hariharan and others who have commented before me,
    whle srilankan security forces view every tamilian or even an ex ltte combatants as a potential security threat ordinary tamils continue to suffer from this overwhelming security presence.we can describe northern province as an open prison with a powerless chief minister who is acting as a jail warden.world needs to ask rajapakshe government how long it is going to view tamils as suspicious people.let bygones be bygones much water have flown since 2009.allow ordinary tamils to lead a dignified life no one is enamoured of tamil tigers and utopian tamil eelam.this is a humble request.

    • 0
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      Go to wellawatte, Dehiwala, Bambalapitiya and Ratmalana to see how ordinary Tamils lead life!

      The reason NPC is not functioning smoothly is because NPC controlled by LTTE elements and the foreign government that doesnt realize the wolf under sheep’s skin

  • 0
    3

    Tamil Nadu is the Tamil HOMELAND.

    ALL Tamils in SL must go back to Tamil Nadu.

    • 2
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      Fat Mama:

      Indian naval vessels to prevent ISI infiltration from Sri Lanka
      May 9 (PTI) Three Naval patrol vessels arrived at the Navy jetty here today in the backdrop of information that Pakistan’s ISI could infiltrate India from Sri Lanka through the sea. Officials who confirmed the arrival of the three vessels, however, refused to give any further information. The ships could be meant for strengthening presence of navy in the region and prevent infiltration of ISI agents by sea from Sri lanka. Only two days ago, a senior official of Tamil Nadu Coastal area confirmed the presence.

      The traffic is flowing in the opposite direction and about to reach millions.

  • 2
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    Colonel:

    The sad truth is that it is 5 years since the end of the war which was won with the help of India with Madam Sonia at the driving seat. Contrary to what the Congress Party have claimed nothing has been done to reign in the GOSL from ethnic cleansing. What is happening today is an accelerated ethnic cleansing following the UNHCR vote to take revenge and to rid the Tamils of any fighting capacity.
    The people who are being targeted are the former LTTE carders who were released under the so called rehabilitation programme. Now they are being taken in and never to be seen again. It is these people who are escaping to Tamil Nadu to save their lives and their families and if they are arrested for screening which is understandable. But I hope following screening they will be released and with the likely change at the top in India we can achieve normalcy and reign in the GOSL so all the refuges can return.

  • 0
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    @ Amarasiri

    Just get lost without wasting the others time over here. You seems a lunatic the way you write in this column. If you are talking of all PARA people why have you taken a PARA name AMARASIRI.

    In fast you are PARA [Edited out]!

  • 0
    0

    Ordinary Sri Lankan Tamils who have nothing to fear are not running away to Tamil Nadu. Those highly publicised recent refugee arrivals in TN are ex-LTTE cadres and criminals evading judicial process in Northern Sri Lanka.

    Having seen the photographs of a young family in the Indian and Tamil internet news media, several victims have identified the couple as serious criminals involved in fraud, cheating and outright extortion. Media reports say the couple have been named as Kathiravelu Thayaparajah and his wife Uthayakala Thayaparajah. There are eleven cases against this criminal couple. In one such pending case, the Chavakacheri magistrat has now sought Interpol assistance for their arrest and deportation to Sri Lanka.

    I personally heard from reliable sources that many of those who went to Australia illegally by boats were petty thieves who were absconding.

    The influential pro-LTTE media in Tamil Nadu and the pro-LTTE politicians are portrayinge these bogus criminal asylum seekers as innocent Tamils escaping Sinhala racists.

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