VELLORE: Sitting in their single room house in the refugee camp in Abdullapuram in Vellore district, a hapless Lankan refugee family is mourning their son, who will be cremated thousands of miles away from here on Wednesday.
Twenty-nine year-old Leorsin Seemmanpillai had committed suicide by self-immolation on June 1 in Melbourne after facing the threat of deportation to Sri Lanka. Because the Australian government denied to give him a permanent visa (permanent citizen).
He had left the camp in Vellore 18 months ago with the hope of reaching the shores of Australia for a better future for himself and his family.
The telephone call from Australia during the wee hours of June 1 shattered Seemmanpillai Ezekiel. He was told about the death of his second son Leorsin. “Since we came to know about the death, I have been trying to get a visa from the Sri Lankan Embassy. I also asked the Consul General of Australia in Chennai to help us reach Melbourne to attend my son’s funeral, but returned with a heavy heart,” said Ezekiel, fighting back tears.
Leorsin’s mother Elizabeth and brothers Maricilin and Alexander were living in the camp here.
Leorsin was supporting the entire family and was sending most of his earnings to his parents. “We have been living in the camp for the last 24 years. Leorsin completed his schooling and studied an electronic and computer engineering polytechnic course. He worked in many places before leaving us one-and-a-half years ago,” he said recollecting about his son.
They were many young Lankans trying to escape to Australia hoping for a better future. After the illegal immigrants number swelled, Australia had begun cracking down to limit the number of refugees and even deported many. “My son is one among them who went to a foreign land. We never knew how he reached Australia. He worked in many places there. He used to telephone us once a week,” said Ezekiel, a coolie. Leorsin was supporting his family by sending anywhere between `10,000 and `15,000 per month.
Though the Lankan Tamils in Australia were ready to sponsor the air fare, the Sri Lankan family was denied visa to enter Australia, citing numerous rules and regulations. “I wanted to be by the side of Leosirn when he was laid to rest but our efforts ended in vain,” he said. The family even asked to bring his body back to India but the rules do not permit it.
After the hospital, where Leorsin’s body had been kept, informed that they would cremate his body if no one claimed it within a day or two, his father contacted the Lankan Tamils and pleaded them to bury his son’s body on behalf of him and his family.