Fresh influx of Sri Lankan refugees worries Indian officials

April 29th, 2008 - 11:18 pm ICT by admin  

Rameshwaram (Tamil Nadu), April 29 (IANS) An increased influx of Tamil refugees from across the Palk Straits following fresh violence in northern Sri Lanka is keeping officials in Tamil Nadu on tenterhooks. Official sources revealed Tuesday that 37 displaced people crossed the Palk Straits illegally without any identification papers claiming to be victims of the war between the Sri Lankan Army and Tamil militants seeking a separate homeland.

“Each person is believed to have paid Rs.10,000 (Indian Rs.5,000) for the trip. The 37 persons transported in two fishing craft were stranded in Arichalmunai (a sand dune two nautical miles from here) by unscrupulous boatmen,” an official of the “Q” Branch of the Tamil Nadu police said after sending the refugees to the Mandapam camp on the mainland.

Situated 600 km south of capital Chennai, this temple town has recorded the entry of 21,251 refugees since 2006, according to the statistics available with the state government.

“The worsening situation in north and northeast Sri Lanka will result in a bigger influx of refugees, certainly a worrying factor. We have no way of knowing the individuals’ identity - whether they are harmless victims of war or operatives from the banned Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE),” a Coast Guard official said.

Meanwhile, a boat load of 15 Tamil fishermen from the island were being ferried towards capital Chennai by the Coast Guard for further questioning by “Q” Branch, the Coast Guard official added.

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