Only 35 per cent of Sri Lankan Tamil refugees living in Tamil Nadu are willing to come back, D.M. Swaminathan, Minister for Resettlement, Reconstruction and Hindu Religious Affairs, said.
In an interview with The Hindu at his office here, Mr. Swamianthan said that of about one lakh refugees in Tamil Nadu, most of them had got jobs there, married had children. “Not all of them will come here. It is all rubbish.”
Mr. Swaminathan, who received 65 refugees on their arrival at the Bandaranaike International Airport on Wednesday, said earlier, those returning to Sri Lanka had to face interrogation that would go on for four to five hours.
“The refugees were scared of interrogation” and this was “the basic problem” that came in their way to return home. “We are trying to reduce its duration of to the extent possible,” he said.
Till now, the refugees, on their return, had to undergo interrogation by three agencies. Now, officials of the agencies were carrying it out together.
Mr. Swaminathan said his Ministry had been working closely with the Army, Emigration and the Police authorities on this issue. Calling his department’s task “PR job,” he said only through closer coordination with other departments, work could be done.
Emphasising that his government would welcome all those refugees who were willing to return, Mr. Swaminathan said that of those who returned on Thursday, there were people who had Indian passports. “They can come back to Sri Lanka under the dual citizenship system. After all, it is their home country.”
He urged those refugees who were planning to return to tell his Ministry in advance so that facilities could be provided on their return. “Those having own lands can go straightaway to their places,” he said.