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Sunday, 11 January 2009

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No more Indian origin stateless people

JVP parliamentarian Ramalingam Chandrasekaran lauded the UPFA Government, especially Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayake, for the efforts and prompt steps initiated under his directions to have a Bill passed in the House, conferring Sri Lankan citizenship status on 25,500 Indian origin stateless people now housed in refugee camps in Tamil Nadu.

These unfortunate Sri Lankan refugees of Indian origin are those who fled to India during the ‘83 black July. The JVP parliamentarian tabled a proposal in the House seeking amendment to the previous Citizenship Act for conferring citizenship status to the refugees and the Bill was passed unanimously last Wednesday.

The passing of the Bill is a milestone in the history of the plantation community in that it had completely ended statelessness of all Indian origin people including those living as refugees in India for the last nearly 25 years, Chandrasekaran told the Sunday Observer.

Although the previous Citizenship Amendment Act passed in 2003 conferred citizenship status on all stateless persons of Indian origin, the clauses in that amendment did not encompass the refugees in India, he said.

The Premier extended his support and cooperation to the JVP in the matter and acted fast in order to have the Bill passed for facilitating the Indian origin people languishing in refugee camps to return to their kith and kin in the Sri Lankan central hill country, he further said.

Chandrasekaran further stated:

“Citizenship issue and statelessness of the Indian origin people were problems created in 1949 by the then UNP government through the introduction of the Indian and Pakistani Residents Citizenship Act and consequently the people were conferred citizenship rights at various stages, at different points of time, over the last six decades.

A large majority of the Indian origin people remained politically, socially and economically isolated in that process. They were treated as second class or rather third class citizens and their children were denied government employment as well as benefits under development projects.

“The issue has now been settled completely marking a significant milestone in the history of the plantation community. Once the Bill becomes law the concerned authorities will take necessary follow up action to confer citizenship status on the people now in refugee camps in Tamil Nadu through our missions in India which will enable those willing to return to Sri Lanka to obtain the necessary travel documents.”

 

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