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Sri Lankan refugees in India were stopped from trying to board boat to Australia

The Tamil Nadu government runs 109 special camps, housing around 60,000 refugees

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Sri Lankan Refugees. Image source: Wikipedia
  • Smugglers charge 100,000 rupees ($1502) for a one-way journey to Australia, according to investigating officials
  • Over 100,000 Sri Lankans are estimated to have sought refuge in southern India, particularly Tamil Nadu
  • Most refugees have refused to go back to Sri Lanka saying the government there has not come up with a clear plan for their reintegration 

CHENNAI, India- Refugee activists have called on the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu to ease restrictions on Sri Lankan refugees living in guarded camps after police intercepted a group who had escaped and were attempting to migrate to Australia.

Campaigners said the case showed how desperate Sri Lankan refugees were to flee India where they have been confined to closed camps for years and have no right to work.

“They are desperate people looking for a dignified life,” said P Pugalenthi, a lawyer who represents refugees in Chennai.

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“They are practically imprisoned in camps with no freedom of movement. They need permission to step out of the camps. They cannot buy property, start a business or even legally have access to a mobile phone.”

Map of Sri Lanka. Image source: Wikipedia
Tamils distribution in Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka. Map of Sri Lanka. Image source: Wikipedia

Over 100,000 Sri Lankans are estimated to have sought refuge in southern India, particularly Tamil Nadu, during the conflict between separatist rebels and the Sri Lankan army which lasted a quarter of a century and ended in 2009.

The Tamil Nadu government runs 109 special camps, housing around 60,000 refugees. They receive an allowance, food and education. Some have been in the camps for two decades and many were born there.

The refugees say if the Indian authorities won’t grant them citizenship they should at least be given the right of free movement in the country.

On Thursday June 2, officials intercepted a truck in Tiruvallur near Chennai where they found 33 refugees missing from four government-run camps. The refugees, including six women and six children, were planning to take a boat to Australia, police said.

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“The journey they were going to embark on is very dangerous. They are just being duped by agents, who have been arrested and will be booked under both trafficking laws and the national security act,” coastal security group head Sylendra Babu told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Police said there had been four or five similar attempts by refugees to board boats to Australia in the last three years.

There have been reports of several suicides in the camps this year as well as protests over alleged harassment by authorities.

“They don’t see a future in India with all the existing restrictions,” said V Suresh of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties rights organization, a human rights organization.

“Most of them are sitting in camps with no work permits or means to upgrade their skills. Living here has robbed them of their self-respect and they want to escape.”

Smugglers charge 100,000 rupees ($1502) for a one-way journey to Australia, according to investigating officials.

India has hosted many refugees from neighboring countries over the years but it has no law to define refugees and the status of the Sri Lankan refugees remains ambiguous.

The U.N. refugee agency, which has a limited mandate in India, does not have access to the camps in Tamil Nadu.

Most refugees have refused to go back to Sri Lanka saying the government there has not come up with a clear plan for their reintegration. Many lost everything in the war and cannot see how they would restart their lives. (Reuters)

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  • Real_Peace

    Thanks Newsgram for this revelation!.

    Let me see if I understand this- According to the Lawyer:
    “They are practically imprisoned in camps with no freedom of movement. They need permission to step out of the camps. They cannot buy property, start a business or even legally have access to a mobile phone.”

    So, why not let them leave if they want to, at their own risk?
    Sounds like: Damned if they do Damned if they don’t!!

  • Real_Peace
  • Aparna Gupta

    India should have a proper law regarding refugees to ease the problem. Moreover, authorities should be polite with refugees instead of harassing them.

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Here’s Why China is Predictable and Not Inscrutable

India could’ve easily predicted the Chinese coming on 5 August 2019

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The Chinese actions are far away from being Inscrutable. Pixabay

As the tensions rise between India and China along the borders in Ladakh, Shekhar Gupta in his article for The Print invokes an American political satirist P.J. O’Rourke.

Talking about his works Shekhar points out that in his ‘A Brief History of Man’, P.J. O’Rourke writes a small sentence “Meanwhile, in China, there were the Chinese.”. This sentence is relevant to us today.

Shekhar Gupta believes that the sentence conveys us a sense of resignation about the “inscrutable” Chinese. This thought happens to be familiar thought in the West.

“But we don’t live in the West. We’ve lived next door to China for as long as first civilisations grew.”, writes Shekhar Gupta

Let’s look at the history of Indian interactions with China since independance. What is inscrutable about it? Talking about the military assault across two fronts in 1962, it may have been a surprise to our leaders back then, but that is only because they were delusional.

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Chinese actions in respect to India are predictable now. Pixabay

From Chinese ultimatum to India to “return their stolen yaks and sheep” in 1965, to their appearance along the Ladakh frontier this year, China happens to be completely predictable and far from inscrutable. Especially keeping in mind Chinese actions in respect to India.

The push at Nathu La (Sikkim) in 1967 was probably to check out the resolve from India. Which they saw at its weakest — having fought two recent wars (1962 and 1965), famines, ship-to-mouth existence, political instability and a diminished Indira Gandhi. . The Indian response was a lesson they quickly learnt. What did the Chinese do after that? They have kept the peace for 53 years. Will you call that response evidence of Chinese inscrutability? They probed us, got a rude push-back, and decided to wait and stir the pot in different ways, at different times, says Shekhar Gupta in his artcile for The Print.

The Chinese kept the hold of what they wanted in 1962. According to Shekhar the truth is, they had it in their possession almost fully, barring small, tactically important slivers in Ladakh. They asserted their ownership and let their larger claim, Arunachal Pradesh, fully in Indian control, go militarily uncontested.

The Chinese never gave up claim on it. In 1986-87, they again checked us out at Wangdung-Sumdorong Chu (Arunachal), when they saw Rajiv Gandhi take India’s defence budget to a 4 per cent-plus of GDP. And once more, the response was firm and the Chinese backed off. The lesson we learnt according to Shekhar Gupta is that the Chinese won’t open fire randomly for the sake of it, Or when they are absolutely sure of an easy victory so they could be seen like ‘teaching an upstart a lesson’ as they did in 1962. Predictable.

Each and every action and response of China fits a pattern- Deliver a message, add leverage, and return, according to Shekhar Gupta.

India, China and Pakistan shared this unusual ‘triangulation’ in which China was using Pakistan to keep India preoccupied, said Former Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh during his tenure.

His idea was to break this ‘triangulation’ by seeking peace with Pakistan. He thought, that a country as big and powerful as China, would see less of an incentive for peace with India than Pakistan.

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Former Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh’s idea was to break this ‘triangulation’ by seeking peace with Pakistan. Wikimedia Commons

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Shekhar Gupta believes that today, that option is not so available, as hostility with Pakistan is central to the Modi-BJP politics. They’d rather make peace with China than Pakistan. That is why the lavish welcomes and frequent meetings with the Chinese leaders. The objective, still, is escaping that triangle.

Another instance of Vajpayee explaining the Chinese negotiating style. “Dekhiye, aap aur hum baithe hain aur vaarta kar rahe hain (see, you and I are sitting and negotiating),” he said. If two people require something and the first person asks to let go of something, the other will say no. Then the first person again asks for something little less, then again the other person might say no. But ultimately the second person will relent and let go of some. The Chinese would never do that.

Both these leaders underlined that the Chinese are consistent, and predictable. And that is why we should not be shoched or surprised by what they have unveiled across Ladakh. We should have anticipated it on 5 August last year when we made the big changes in Jammu & Kashmir. This Chinese move, like all others in 60 years, was fully predictable. Even the timing, says Shekhar Gupta in his article for The Print.

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COVID-19: Samsung Exclusive Stores get ‘Suraksha’ Certified

The initiative is aimed at the security and safety of customers and employees

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Samsung exclusive stores get 'Suraksha' certified in India. Pixabay

Samsung on Friday said all of its exclusive stores have been ‘Suraksha’ certified to ensure consumer safety at a time when social distancing is the new normal.

Suraksha Store is a public private initiative to ensure safe and secure environment for consumers and store employees.

The certification will ensure that consumers feel safe and confident when they visit stores to buy smartphones and other devices.

“The initiative will ensure that consumers and employees working at these Exclusive Stores feel confident about their well-being and safety,” Mohandeep Singh, Senior Vice President, Mobile Business, Samsung India said in a statement.

According to the company, to strictly adhere to government’s social distancing guidelines, the exclusive stores are encouraging consumers to maintain a minimum distance of 1.5 metre between themselves.

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A distance of 1.5 meters is to be maintained according to social distancing guidelines. (Representational Image). Pixabay

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Meanwhile, customers are encouraged to use digital contactless payments and swiping machines will be sanitized before being given to the customer to ensure the highest standard of hygiene is maintained across our Exclusive Stores.

Only a limited number of customers will be allowed within the store at any given point to avoid crowd formation, said Samsung India. (IANS)

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80% Cases of COVID-19 in India Exhibit Nil or Mild Symptoms: Health Minister

Health Minister Harsh Vardhan says that nearly 80% of COVID cases in India are asymptomatic

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Health MinisterHarsh Vardhan said that almost 80% COVID-19 cases are asymptomatic. Wikimedia Commons

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Thursday said almost 80 per cent of the COVID-19 cases in India are asymptomatic or at best with very mild symptoms, according to Covid-19 pandemic in India updates.

In an exclusive interview to IANS, the Health Minister said, “Even today, in almost 80 per cent of the cases of COVID-19, which are being reported in India, the patients tend to exhibit either nil or mild symptoms. These patients are mostly contacts of confirmed cases. Interestingly, had it not been for our contact tracing efforts, and if left to their own in isolation, these patients may not have even remembered or reported their infection.”

Harsh Vardhan, who has recently been elected the chief of WHO’s Executive Board, was answering a query on whether asymptomatic patients who are potential virus carriers and who can take the virus deeper into rural India are causing worry to the government.

He said, “I am aware about WHO’s mention of some laboratory-confirmed cases that are truly asymptomatic. It is equally true, that as on date, there has been no documented asymptomatic transmission.”

However, he added that recently, more symptoms like headache, muscle pain, pink eye, loss of smell, or loss of taste, intense chills, rigors and sore throat have been included in the list of COVID-19 symptoms by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the United States. “It will require more studies before these symptoms are finally included in our list in India,” he quipped.

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Recently, more symptoms like headache have been included in the list of COVID-19 symptoms. Pixabay

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He added that the new symptoms were very subjective and vague which might go unnoticed, might not be remembered by the patient and, thus, might even go unreported. “Moreover, if for a moment we talk of testing such asymptotic patients, identification of all these asymptomatic cases will require repeated testing of 1.3 billion population which is a resource expensive exercise for any country and is neither possible nor recommended,” the Health Minister said.

He emphasized on priority-based and targeted testing and said that it will be helpful in detecting more cases of COVID-19 and curbing the disease. “With our efforts at sustained and quality assured scaling up of the testing facilities, I am sure, we shall be better placed for maximum case detection,” he concluded. (IANS)