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The promise of Indian citizenship

October 3, 2009
New Words To Keep Karunanidhi’s promise on Lankan refugees in India prompts a debate
As demonstrated by recent geopolitics, sheltering refugees torn by conflict places special and tough demands on a country’s resources and society. But a declaration of political will, with an altruistic, moral stand at its core, has its own rewards. When Tamil Nadu chief minister M. Karunanidhi promised to take steps to ensure that the Centre would grant citizenship to the one lakh-plus Sri Lankan refugees who have sought shelter in the state for the last 25 years, did he think things through? This is the question that many in Chennai’s political circles are asking after he made the announcement at the valedictory function of the Anna birth centenary on September 26. 

The statement has caused ripples in Sri Lanka, which is yet to find a solution to the 2.60 lakh Internally Displaced People forced into living in camps after its victory over the LTTE. Lanka-watchers fear that Karunanidhi, in trying to burnish his pro-Tamil credentials (which took a beating after the momentous events in Sri Lanka), may have got carried away and played into the hands of chauvinist forces in Sri Lanka. “The move may encourage Sri Lankan rulers to drive ethnic Tamils out of their country,” says Ashok Gladston, an expert on refugees at Chennai’s Loyola College.

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business standard

Govt to consider proposal on citizenship to SL Tamil refugees

Union Home Minister P Chidambaram today said the Centre would consider a proposal by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi to grant Indian citizenship to Sri Lankan Tamil refugees living in the state.

“We have received a letter (from the state government) in this regard and the Centre would look into it,” Chidambaram told reporters here after meeting Karunanidhi.

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