Given the prevailing political situation in Sri Lanka, the time has come for Sri Lankan Tamil refugees in Tamil Nadu to return home, said S. C. Chandrahasan, founder of the Organisation for Eelam Refugees Rehabilitation (OfERR).
“It is a golden opportunity for the refugees to return home especially when there is an effort to form a national government in Sri Lanka. The time has come to reap the benefits of our blood-stained struggle,” he told The Hindu.
Tamil Nadu is home to more than one hundred thousand Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka, with over 60,000 of them residing in a hundred camps spread across the State.
Asked whether the refugees were ready for return, Chandrahasan said though they had some reservations, assistance from the governments of Tamil Nadu and India to start their life in Sri Lanka would convince them to return to their homeland.
“The Tamil Nadu government is already rendering a lot of help. They can continue to provide support at least for one year till our people find their feet in Sri Lanka,” Mr. Chandrahasan said. OfERR had already held 17 rounds of talks with the refugees before presenting their case to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and officials of the ministry about the return of the refugees. The Sri Lankan government also was very keen on their return as 3,800 graduates among the refugees would be of great resource for the country.
Chandrahasan said already over 10,000 people had returned to Sri Lankan on their own. However, politically too, their return was very important to the Tamil community. “We have lost two MPs in the Northern Provinces because of lack of Tamil population. Our return also will make up for the loss,” he said.
Noting that the present dispensation in the island nation had the support of former Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga, he said the Special Presidential Commission that she heads on finding a solution to the problems of the Tamil community was a ray of hope. Chandrahasan said though he had plans to enter politics he was delaying it for the sake of the refugees.