CM orders survey of repatriates from Lanka, Bangladesh

CM orders survey of repatriates from Lanka, Bangladesh

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has ordered a survey of all the repatriates from Sri Lanka and Bangladesh residing in Karnataka, to provide them caste certificates. The Sri Lanka repatriates have been seeking the caste certificates for benefits of employment and education.

Forest Department minister Ramanath Rai and Urban Development Department minister Vinay Kumar Sorake said that these repatriates have been demanding the right to possess the caste certificates, after the issuance of the certificates was stopped on account of  ‘misinterpretation’ of their status in India since 2002.

“The Sri Lankan repatriates had set up their homes in various parts of the country under the Bandarnaike-Shastri pact of 1964. They were accorded residence in Sullia and Puttur too. From 1964 to 2002, they were given the caste certificates. However, since 2002, the certificates were discontinued on account of some misinterpretation of the law,” said Rai.

It is said that officials in Karnataka interpreted their residential status as ‘refugees’ and not as ‘repatriates’. This dilemma was cleared after a detailed meeting a delegation of Sri Lankan repatriates had with the chief minister, the advocate general and the chief secretary on Friday.

Rai said that it was decided that the local deputy commissioner (DC) would now conduct a survey of all the repatriates residing in the State to identify which caste they originally belonged to and what certificates they were given.

Once the survey is completed, within 15 days, the caste certificates will be re-issued. It is estimated that there are no less than 15,000 Sri Lankan repatriates in Sullia and Puttur taluks of Dakshina Kannada district. According to the delegation, the lack of caste certificates was resulting in loss of livelihood and education for those from the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

“The biggest problem on account of not possessing the caste certificates is that people are unable to secure jobs. They have to even forgo their jobs under the quota system due to lack of these certificates,” said Venkappa, Sullia block Congress president.

The Sri Lankan repatriates are originally Tamils who had gone as labourers to work in Sri Lanka, then called as Ceylon. At the other end, as many as 700 repatriated families from Bangladesh have been facing the same predicament in Raichur. Speaking to Deccan Herald, chief secretary Kaushik Mukherjee said the government will also be taking up a survey of these repatriates from Bangladesh.

Illegal immigrants

“We are surveying only those who have been authorised by the Government of India as repatriated citizens of this country. There will not be any addition to this list, of illegal immigrants or those who have overstayed in the State,” he said.  

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