The State Government of India continues to wait for the Centre’s decision on according refugee status to those who have come illegally from Sri Lanka to Tamil Nadu, seeking asylum.
Only if the Centre gives its nod, will the illegal migrants can be treated as refugees, after which they will become eligible to receive any dole in cash. In the last 10 years, the Union government has not given refugee status to anyone who comes from Sri Lanka. With the arrival of 18 persons in Dhanushkodi on Friday, the number of asylum seekers has gone up to 60.
At present, the authorities are ensuring that illegal migrants are provided with proper food and other necessities as the idea is to treat them humanely.
The services of a few non-governmental organisations (NGOs), having a track record in the area of refugee welfare, have been roped in to provide assistance to the illegal migrants, according to sources in the State Government.
Meanwhile, the State Government has been keeping the Union Government informed of all developments.
A report on the latest influx of 18 persons, who reached near Dhanushkodi first before being taken to the Mandapam rehabilitation camp, has also been sent to the Centre.
The authorities in the State have also come to know that in recent weeks, approximately 60 persons have come from Sri Lanka having valid documents. A police official said currently, they were here on a three-month visa.
Some of them are staying with relatives at certain rehabilitation camps.
The revenue authorities in charge of the camps allow them to stay there as refugees inform them that these migrants are with them to go on a pilgrimage. “After the visa period expires, we will have to take a call depending on whether they are seeking an extension of the visa or not,” the police official observed, adding that there was another group of persons who are staying on their own.
The official pointed out that inquiries with the illegal migrants revealed that before leaving Sri Lanka, many had sold their immovable and movable properties with the intention of remaining in Tamil Nadu permanently.