Thirty-two-year-old Sri Lankan Tamil R Chenthuran alias Murugan continued his fast-unto-death for the 18th consecutive day in the Vellore jail demanding the closure of the special camps for Sri Lankan Tamils in the State.
Also, he demanded the government not to file cases against Sri Lankan Tamils under the Foreigners Act.
Murugan has been observing the hunger strike since March 7. The minute after he came out of the prison after obtaining bail in a case filed by Shankar Nagar police in Chennai, for abusing his mother-in-law, on March 3, the Q branch-CID arrested him under section 3 (2) (e) of the Foreigners Act, 1946.
The Q branch policemen arrested him following a government order on March 2, from the Home Department of Tamil Nadu against Chenthuran under the provisions of the Foreigners Act. The case was slapped against him in a bid to restrain his movements and activities outside the camp.
After the arrest, he was taken to the Special Camp for Sri Lankan Refugee Camp in Chengalpet in Kancheepuram district. “On his way, he announced his fast-unto-death protest pressing for his demand for the closure of the special camps,” said a police officer. After he was lodged in the special camp, he continued his fast. Following that the police attached to Chengalpet sub-division registered a case on charges of attempt to suicide for continuing his hunger protest, on March 13. “He (Murugan) was again brought back here and lodged in the high-risk prisoners’ cell in the Vellore prison. However, he continued his protest and refused to take food. The prison officials lodged a complaint with Bagayam police against him for continuing the protest without adhering to the jail manual,” said a source in the prison.
He also refused to undergo treatment. “Chenthuran is drinking only water. He is also not cooperating for treatment. He is adamant, demanding the State not to book cases against Sri Lankans under Foreigners Act. He also demanded the government to drop all cases against him,” said the source.
A year ago, the Centre had taken steps to deport Chenthuran along with two other Lankan Tamils–Eela Nehru and Italia Rajan (alias) Sundarajan— to the island nation. However, a legal suit in the Madras High Court had saved them from the Centre’s move.