Lankan Refugee Goes On Indefinite Fast in India

VELLORE: A 34-year old Sri Lankan Tamil farmer, belonging to the region of Mullavaikal in Sri Lanka, has been appealing to revenue officials and the Q branch police for the past two weeks, to secure the release of his wife from Mandapam Camp prison in Rameswaram.  The spouse has allegedly begun an indefinite fast in the camp. When Q Branch Police were contacted by Express, they gave an assurance that his wife would be released in a day or two and are awaiting official communication.

The tale of B Suthakaran, who with his family came to India seeking refuge is a tale that went awry for him at the very outset.

Suthakaran, who was a farmer in the island nation of Sri Lanka, arrived in Tamil Nadu with his wife and children in the month of May, 2014. The couple were arrested for illegal entry together with their daughter Nilakshana (13) and son Vithuran (8) who were left to be in the care of a pastor in Rameswaram.

Despite the civil war having ended for a couple of years, several Tamil people in the island nation continued to suffer at the hands of the Sri Lankan army and police. Suthakaran was one of those hapless Tamils, who continued to face the wrath of the Lankan police. Suthakran claims that the intelligence wing of the Sri Lankan Navy arrested and detained him for 23 months from April 3, 2008 accusing him of having connections with the LTTE. After he was released, the Lankan police once again were on the lookout for him and it was then that he decided to leave the country in March 2014.

Suthakaran and his family landed on the shores of Dhanuskodi on May 5, 2014 and despite Suthakaran informing Q branch of his entry and openly seeking refugee status he was arrested. Q branch police registered a case against the family under the Foreigners’ Act 1946 on charges of illegal entry into India. A court ordered imprisonment for a year, following which they were lodged in Puzhal Prison in Chennai, said a police official attached to Q branch.

“After I reached Dhanuskodi, I telephoned the Q branch police. I informed them that I am Sri Lankan and had come with my family thinking that they will register us as refugees and put us in the camps,” said Suthakaran.

“But everything went awry as my wife and I were imprisoned and my children were separated from us. If I had known that this would happen, I would not have come to India to put my family under distress,” he bemoaned.

The couple was released from Puzhal Prison on August 15, 2015. However they wer picked up by the police personnel of Q branch and while Suthakaran was detained in the Special Camp at Cheyyar in Tiruvannamalai district, his wife was lodged in the special prison in Mandapam. Suthakaran was released from the Cheyyar Camp for Men on September 29 while his wife continues to languish in the Mandapam Camp.

“After my release, I approached revenue officials and Q branch police requesting for my wife’s release. But the officials are not giving any clarification about her release,” said Suthakaran.

Irked over the officals’ response, Ramekka has allegedly launched a hunger protest.

“She wrote a letter to the revenue officials in-charge of the camp to inform them of her fast before commencing the fast on Tuesday morning,” claimed Suthakaran.

However, the Q branch police denied the claim made by Suthakaran to Express that Ramekka was on a fast. They also said they would release Ramekka once they receive an official communication from the government. “She was made to stay at the Mandapam camp. We will release her within a day or two,” said a police official.

suthakaran family’s ordeal in india

■ Suthakaran, his wife Ramekka, two children landed on the shores of Dhanuskodi in May 2014

■ He informed Q branch police seeking refugee status; however, he and his wife were imprisoned in Puzhal Prison and released on August 15, 2015. His children were placed in the care of a pastor in Rameswaram

■ After release, Suthakar was placed in Cheyyar Camp for Men; his wife was placed in Mandapam Camp in Rameswaram. Suthakar was released on September 29 while his wife continues to languish in Mandapam Camp