For 33-year-old Thayapararaja, an engineer from Kilinochchi, hopes of a peaceful life and better education for his children have dashed as his family had constantly been on the run from the Lankan Army and police.
Thayapararaja was among the 10 Sri Lankan refugees, including five children, who reached Arichalmunai near Dhanuskodi, early on Monday. They were later booked under the Foreigners Act for not possessing valid documents to enter India. Another refugee, Dhavendran (34), a driver from Mullaitivu district, said that the Lankan army would storm houses of Tamils any time and take them to camps. The fate of many such innocents was not known, he said.
Dhavendran was living with his wife Lakshani and three kids. He said that the army had been taking away Tamils from their houses on suspicion, since 2010. Dhavendran’s brother-in-law Karthipan had been detained in Poosa jail. He was then shifted to a rehabilitation camp six months ago without any reason.
At the end of the civil war in 2009, contrary to the popular belief that peace had returned to Lanka and Tamils were leading a normal life, several Lankan Tamil youngsters had been thrown into camps and jails, he said.
Thayapararaja said that he was working as an assistant lecturer in Peradeniya University from 2001-2005. The Lankan army had detained him twice and kept him in a navy camp and a prison for two years. Thereafter he had tried to move to Australia along with his family. However, the police tried to arrest him. He then kept on moving to various places including Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu, Vavunya and Jaffna with his family. Finally Thayapararaja took a decision to seek shelter in India and gave Rs 50,000 to a boat crew so that his family could board from Mannar, he said.
He had been struggling for two hours in knee-deep water before reaching the Mandapam refugee camp. However, he was not aware that any person who reached the mainland from Sri Lanka would be booked under the Foreigners Act.
Similarly, Sudhakaran (35) of Muraipu village near Mullaitivu, a van driver, who served as a food supplier in the LTTE from 1996 to 2005 and tried to escape, was detained by LTTE cadre and punished for three months. Sudhakaran said that the Lankan army would not allow Tamils to live peacefully and there was no security for them in that country. Though India had extended assistance for the rehabilitation of Lankan Tamils, the funds have not been fully utilised. The Lankan Navy detained him in 2008 and released him after three years, after which he was arrested by the police and incarcerated for six months, he said.
However, even after his release, he was still chased by the police. He then gave `1.2 lakh to the crew and reached Arichalmunai later. Seven others, who tried to escape from Sri Lanka in a boat were detained by the SL Navy and taken back to the country, he said.
Intelligence Wing personnel conducted an inquiry with them at the Dhanuskodi police station and booked them under the Foreigners Act, Superintendent of Police Mylvahanan told ‘Express’.
The arrested refugees from the island nation would be produced before a court here, the SP added.