MADURAI: For K Nalini of Kottapattu Rehabilitation Camp for Sri Lankan refugees in Tiruchy, getting an Indian Passport is nothing short of a dream come true. The Madurai Bench of Madras High Court on Friday helped her realise this dream by allowing a petition filed by Nalini seeking the issuance of a passport to her.
Justice GR Swaminathan, who passed the order, observed that as per Section 3 of the Citizenship Act, 1955, every person born in India between January 26, 1950, and July 1, 1987, are Indian Citizen. "Since Nalini was born to Sri Lankan refugees in Mandapam Camp in 1986, she is an Indian Citizen as per the Act. Therefore, she is entitled to a passport," the judge said and directed the authorities concerned to issue a passport to her.
Speaking to The New Indian Express, the 36-year-old woman said since childhood she has been longing for this day. "I have been residing in refugee camps all my life. There is a stigma attached to our fate which inhibits our development and progress. I wished my children wouldn't share the same fate. I wanted something better for them. I didn't want them to feel confined like me," she said. Nalini has two sons, Naveen and Haswin, studying in Classes IV and II respectively. Her husband, who is a refugee, is an auto driver.
Driven by this yearning for a better life for her children, Nalini searched for a solution and came to know about Section 3 of the Citizenship Act and how it would apply to people like her. Armed with her birth certificate, educational certificate and other documents to prove her nationality, Nalini approached the Regional Passport Office in Tiruchy on April 8, 2021. But her application was rejected, she said.
"Even though my parents had come from Sri Lanka, I was born on Indian soil and depriving me of an Indian passport is a serious deprivation of my national identity and liberty," Nalini said and thanked the High Court for coming to her rescue. "This order has given me a glimmer of hope," she said. Saying that her great grandfather was a freedom fighter in the Indian freedom struggle and was also a recipient of a freedom fighter pension, she recalled how her ancestors had later migrated to Sri Lanka for jobs and returned to India on the verge of civil war. "Like us, many families in the camp are actually of Indian Origin, but are struggling to prove their nationality," Nalini said.
L Romeo Roy Alfred, Nalini's counsel, told The New Indian Express, that a majority of the Lankan refugees in rehabilitation camps in Tamil Nadu long to get Indian Citizenship. Most of them are Hill Country Tamils, he added and urged the Central and State government to conduct a survey in this regard.