05/18/2009, 00.00
INDIA – SRI LANKA
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Sri Lankan Tamil refugees do not trust India’s Congress party

by Nirmala Carvalho
Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Singh do not want to get involved in Sri Lankan affairs. Religious working in relief centres in Tamil Nadu says the real problem is that refugees in India live in the country as foreigners and do not integrate into society.
Chennai (AsiaNews) – “The landslide victory of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) is a sign of hope for Tamils. The party can put pressure on the central government in New Delhi to find a solution to the Tamil problem,” a Sri Lankan Tamil refugee told AsiaNews. In India since the 1990s and choosing to remain anonymous, he said that the just completed elections were “good for India but bad for Tamil Eelam.”

India’s Congress party shows no inclination to put pressure on Sri Lanka to recognise an independent Tamil state on its territory. This means that as the war winds down any hope for self-determination by the island’ northern minority is gone.

The only hope Tamil refugees who live in Tamil Nadu have is that the DMK, the State’s largest party, which won most seats in the recent Lok Sabha election, will do something.

In fact during the election campaign Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and DMK leader Karunanidhi Muthuvel went on a hunger strike to put pressure on Congress leaders, his allies in the campaign, to become involved in bringing an end to the war and back Tamil claims against the Sri Lankan government.

An Indian religious, who works among the 74,000 Tamil refugees in 115 relief camps across Tamil Nadu, said that “a change in government should not affect India’s policy towards Sri Lanka. [. . . ] Refugees,” he said, “are mere spectators in Indian politics.” Their main concern is “economic aid from the government in New Delhi.”

In his view the “central government is doing a lot to help them become self-sufficient.”

The problem is that refugees “are not being assimilated into Indian society.”

This raises questions “about their future as foreigners”, a situation not helped by their inability to reunite with their families.

An important domain in this sense is education. Unfortunately the religious explained, refugee children have a high drop-out rate.

“The challenge is to figure out how we can motivate young people” and make sure that they “can do the same as a thousand of Tamil kids who are graduating from college” in Tamil Nadu this year.

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