12 Sri Lankan refugees attempt suicide at Tiruchy prison

Bid follows protest by 80 others seeking release after term served

Published: 21st August 2021 05:07 AM  |   Last Updated: 21st August 2021 05:07 AM   |  A+A-

Student suicide, stress, pressure, depression

Representational Image. (Express Illustrations)

By Express News Service

TIRUCHY: Tension prevailed at the special camp in the central prison once again on Friday, as 12 Sri Lankan refugees reportedly tried to end their lives by overdosing on sleeping pills. The inmates are currently being monitored by the Health and Medical Welfare Department, and will be transferred to the MGMGH as and when required, sources said. Owing to their health condition, ambulances have been kept on standby at the City Police Commissioner’s office, which is close to the prison.

It may be noted that over 80 Sri Lankan refugees at the camp have been staging various kind of protests over the past few months demanding immediate release. Earlier this week, 16 persons had made a similar suicide attempt. A few of the inmates had also cut their hands using sharp objects.

When asked how the inmates managed to get so many sleeping pills, a senior prison official said, “The inmates are allowed to meet their family members. During those interactions, they might have spoken about the plan and procured the sleeping pills. We are investigating the issue.”

According to sources, most of the inmates have been confined due to their involvement in cases such as possession of fake passport, overstay, robbery and murder. Pressing the demand of the inmates, FC Ben, a Sri Lankan refugee and activist said, “Many of the refugees are being held illegally in the camps. Despite their term ending, many of them have not been released. Officials have to immediately look into our demand and ensure that those who eligible are released without any delay.” 

Jacintha Lazarus, Commissioner of Rehabilitation and Welfare of Non Resident Tamils, had visited the special camp and interacted with the inmates on June 28. Family members of the inmates allege wrongful detention, as they are being considered as foreigners.

“We are not foreigners, we are refugees. We were all born in these refugee camps and have lived in India for over 30 years. The authorities should allow us to live with our families after being granted bail. Despite bail being granted to several of them, they are detained in the camps,” said Jana, a relative of an inmate.

When contacted, Collector S Sivarasu said, “We are following the court’s orders. The government is currently considering an order to pave the way for eligible Sri Lankan refugees lodged in fake passport cases to come out after their punishment. But, in the case of refugees lodged for other cases, only the court can decide on the release.”


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