Refugee influx resumes

Place: Tamil Nadu | Courtesy: The Hindu
| Date: 20000522

RAMANATHAPURAM, MAY 21. With the LTTE reportedly advancing towards Jaffna, Tamil refugees from various parts of Sri Lanka have started arriving here. A fresh batch of 24 families consisting of 72 Sri Lankan Tamils, including 32 women and 14 children, landed in Arichalmunai near Dhanuskodi from Pesalai on Sunday after a long gap of 12 days.

They were reportedly dropped at the third island in Indian territorial waters on Saturday. Though they could have reached the Land's End by walk, they were unable to do so owing to the presence of neck-deep water. They were, however, identified by the Indian Navy personnel on Saturday midnight and the police were informed. They, in turn, asked the Department of Fisheries to rescue the stranded refugees, who were finally shifted to the Mandapam camp after a thorough screening by security agencies.

The district administration here has come out with a contingency plan to tackle the refugee influx, according to sources. There are plans to shift 3,000 inmates from Mandapam to camps in other districts to ensure the immediate accommodation of refugees. Around 1,500 refugees will be shifted to Kanyakumari, Salem and Coimbatore district camps within two days.

The Public Works Department has also undertaken repairs of two big sheds in the Mandapam camp. A proposal has been sent to the Commissioner for Rehabilitation for the installation of four watch-towers and construction of compound walls around the camp, with the aim to prevent any infiltration of Tamil militants in the guise of refugees, according to Mr. S. N. Seshsasai, Superintendent of Police.

He told The Hindu that the police have stepped up vigil in the coastal areas of Ramanathapuram district.