Sri Lankan Tamil MP V. S. Radhakrishnan has urged the State and Central governments to accord Indian citizenship to Sri Lankan Tamil refugees who live in different parts of Tamil Nadu.
Addressing reporters in Tiruchi after meeting K. M. Kader Mohideen, president, Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) here on Saturday, Mr. Radhakrishnan said that a large number of Sri Lankan Tamils, including those who had worked in plantations and took asylum in India due to the civil war in Sri Lanka, had been living in various refugee camps in Tamil Nadu for several years.
Since the civil war had ended over 10 years ago the Sri Lankan Tamils could return to their native places. But the livelihood opportunities for them, particularly plantation workers, were bleak. Hence, many Tamils continued to live in India. Considering their plight, the Indian government should accord citizenship to them. It was commendable to note that Chief Minister M. K. Stalin had taken steps to improve the living conditions of Sri Lankan Tamil refugees. He should take steps to get citizenship for them.
Stating that a few countries had offered dual citizenship to Sri Lankan Tamils, Mr. Radhakrishnan said that the Indian government could take a cue from them to offer dual citizenship. If there were any security-related issues on it, the Indian government should find a solution to the long-pending demand.
To a question on Chinese influence in Sri Lanka, Mr. Radhakrishnan said that he could not subscribe to the observation that China had been interfering in Sri Lankan affairs. But it had been showing an aggressive interest in strengthening its economic activities in Sri Lanka. While developing Colombo Port City, China had taken steps to set up hybrid wind and solar energy projects on three islands, which were close to the Indian coast. The security concern in India on growing Chinese influence was understandable, Mr. Radhakrishnan said and added that the Sri Lankan Tamil parties had vehemently opposed the port development project. But the ruling party, which had a majority in the Parliament, passed the Bill on the project.