Ravi Shankar for citizenship rights for Tamil refugees

CHENNAI - Spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Tuesday said the more than 100,000 Sri Lankan Tamils living as refugees in 112 camps in Tamil Nadu should be given immigrant status.

Sri Lankan Tamils living in Europe and America have jobs and businesses, have a home and are well off, while those living in Tamil Nadu since 1983 are still languishing in the camps as refugees, he said.

The Art of Living Foundation founder said in Kancheepuram near here that the refugees needed to be “integrated into the country”.

Ravi Shankar, at the start of a week-long Tamil Nadu tour, said: “It is just humane to give hope and opportunity to these people living in Tamil Nadu.”

He also called for a signature campaign by the citizens to absorb the Sri Lankan Tamils into the mainstream of Indian society. They should be given ration cards, homes, jobs and citizenship, he said.

While refugees from Bangladesh and Nepal have been enjoying these benefits, Ravi Shankar wondered why everyone has turned a blind eye to the sufferings of Sri Lankan Tamils in Tamil Nadu.

He also said that all help should be provided to Sri Lanka to help resettle the estimated 300,000 Tamils who are in refugee camps since the war ended in May.

Sri Lankan Tamils began fleeing to Tamil Nadu since the 1983 anti-Tamil violence. Tamil Nadu is separated from Sri Lanka by a narrow strip of sea.

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