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    Refugees should return, returnees are happy: SC Chandrahasan

    dc-Cover-kh9j9il5tbkifkikvvdrn78521-20160623072941.MediThere are about 65,000 refugees living these camps, almost half of them born here to parents who had fled by boats from the Eelam war zones.

    Almost 10,000 refugees have returned home and are happy, which should only encourage the other inmates of the 110 camps in Tamil Nadu to get back to Sri Lanka and rebuild their lives, says S. C. Chandrahasan of the Organisation for Eelam Refugees Rehabilitation (OfERR), a self-help organisation working for the welfare of the Eelam refugees since 1983.

    There are about 65,000 refugees living these camps, almost half of them born here to parents who had fled by boats from the Eelam war zones. The first boatloads of these refugees had arrived at Rameswaram soon after the anti-Tamil riots in Colombo in July 1983.

    “The returnees are mostly happy and many of them have said they did not expect so much of peace and tranquility back there. Even if a few of them have not been able to get what they desired, most are content. There is total security and exciting opportunities to rebuild lives. They could reclaim their lands, find jobs and above all, have the satisfaction of living in their own country, as full-fledged citizens”, Chandrahasan told DC on the sidelines of the screening of OfERR documentary, ‘No Longer a Refugee’, which video-chronicled the account of a refugee who had come to India as a four-year-old along with his parents and returned home in Mullaitivu in April 2015 to “an exciting new beginning”.

    Mayooran, the youth, had completed his schooling “walking to school barefoot” from his camp in Samugarengapuram in Tirunelveli district, did his college and even passed the M.Phil here before deciding to go back. The documentary, screened here on Wednesday for a select audience comprising journalists, academicians and Eelam workers, also had the versions of several other returnees detailing their post-return experiences setting up homes.

    For instance, there is Anthony, 29, living in Mannar, saying, “I am not really concerned about the issues of security here. I have living in India (TN camps) and have seen how the security agencies operate in the camps. Roll call, checking, registration, doles and so on. I was so used to all that, now I do not have any such concerns”. Adds Sasikala, “In my camp, even if I had to go to visit my relatives in another camp and stay for more than two days, I needed to get permission. If I had to work in a place far away from my camp, I had to inform the authorities. Here I am free, I can travel from here to Colombo or wherever I want”.

    By this documentary, Chandrahasan says, he wants to be the ‘gudu-gudu-kaaran’, the soothsayer—telling the inmates of the camps in TN that good things are waiting for them when they return home.

    “India and Tamil Nadu took care of us so well and we will be ever grateful to our hosts. But we must go back without further delay, instead of falling prey to unscrupulous agents and undertaking their perilous boat trips seeking greener pastures in distant countries like Austrlia, where entry is just not possible”, says the OfERR chief, adding, “Besides, we have a responsibility to build our country to be among the top in the world. We can”.

    Courtesy – Deccan Chronicle

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