Hike in Lankans fleeing to Tamil Nadu 

  • Unrest in addition to economic reasons cited for leaving   

BY Dinitha Rathnayake 

The number of Sri Lankans fleeing to Tamil Nadu, India, has increased due to the current situation in the country.

Speaking to The Morning, All-Ceylon Fisheries Federation National Organiser Ratna Gamage said that the numbers were increasing in the last few days due to the tense situation in the country.

Meanwhile, Indian authorities have issued a high alert in Tamil Nadu on the possibility of Sri Lankans fleeing to the country via the sea route due to the recent unrest. The Hindu reported that a high alert has been sounded in the coastal districts of Tamil Nadu to thwart the intrusion of Sri Lankan nationals into the state. Indian Police sources said on Tuesday (10) that patrolling along the territorial waters and roads leading to the coastline has been intensified.

The alert has been issued amid violent protests and emergency powers given to the armed forces in Sri Lanka due to the recent outbreak of unrest.

The Indian State Government has reportedly been in touch with India’s Ministry of Home Affairs on the possibility of Sri Lankan nationals arriving to seek refuge in India. While the arrival of refugees in small batches started in early March this year, with several families taking boats to reach the Rameswaram coast, a sudden increase is likely, the sources said. Security personnel in the coastal districts were alerted to mount surveillance at vantage points and alert village vigilance committees in all fishing hamlets to keep a watch at known landing points.

Meanwhile, Illankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi MP Selvam Adaikkalanathan said that the Tamil Nadu Government has a positive approach to the Sri Lankan Tamils who have reached the state in the wake of the ongoing economic crisis in Sri Lanka. Speaking to The Morning, he said that this was in response to a letter sent by him to the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin. 

“People from the North started fleeing one month ago to Tamil Nadu due to the economic crisis. They don’t have proper jobs and no way of having food and essential items. Day by day, prices are increasing.” According to Adaikkalanathan, he wrote a letter to Stalin urging the latter not to harm Sri Lankan Tamils and not to take legal action against them. 

“In the letter, I urged him not to take legal action against the Tamil Sri Lankans and not to put them in jail. They have already suffered a lot.”

According to reports to date, more than 60 Sri Lankan Tamils have reached Dhanushkodi and Rameswaram. 

Most of them have sold all their belongings to reach the Indian shores in fishing boats, paying large sums. 

Tamil Nadu has accommodated all the refugees at the Mandapam refugee camp but the accommodation is temporary as the state would have to get a green light from the Central Government to provide full scale refugee status to those who reach Indian shores.