Chennai: Ever thought why Sri Lankan refugees in the State use illegal methods to leave the country? Maybe the Chennai city police have something to do with it.
There are thousands of Sri Lankan families settled in the city who arrived here before or during the civil war in the island nation.
According to those who live in rented houses, they are made to run from pillar to post in getting a police clearance certificate (PCC) which in itself is a cumbersome task involving the house-owners.
Speaking to 'News Today', a resident of Selaiyur, A Ramesh, said, "It is a long procedure for people wanting to go to Australia and Canada. The PCC requires the documents and certificates of house-owners and neighbours."
"In most cases, the house-owners decline to give a copy of their identity card for police verification. They also want the neighbour to give a letter saying our character and conduct is good. This is the reason why people opt for illegal methods," said Ramesh who has been living in Chennai for the past 28 years.
AGE NO BAR
There was a case when an 82-year-old woman came to Commissioner’s office seeking his help, alleging that the police put her through an ordeal to grant a PCC. "They wanted to know if she had any criminal cases," said a source.
Another resident of Korattur, Shekar Surlimani, said, "When we move to a new neighbourhood, we inform the local police. Every time we shift, we inform them. But when we go for a PCC, the police officials give more importance to the house-owner's certificate and neighbour's letters. They also ask for reports of the past 10 years, including details of house-owners."
Another Sri Lankan resident said, "For two months, we kept asking our landlord for a photocopy of his identity proof. We are asked to get a form filled up by the house-owner, they refuse. Sometimes the landlord is asked to come to police station. How will he give his Aadhaar number?"
WHAT IS ENOUGH?
When 'News Today' got in touch with an official at the Commissioner's office who takes care of Sri Lankan refugee issues, he said, "The police department is asking for way too many formalities which is unnecessary. The resident's identity card would be enough, apart from a police inquiry. So many people come to us regarding this. They claim that they are not on good terms with the house-owner and it was hindering their application for PCC. Such formalities are causing people to forge letters and documents."
The official said some of the other problems they face are being unable to land a job despite being qualified. There are thousands of graduates, postgraduates, M.Phil and Ph.D degree-holders who live in the refugee camps, and many of them are leaving in batches.
Another problem is having to pay a huge amount as over-stay penalty.
25,000 Sri Lankan refugees live in Chennai
1 lakh refugees live across Tamilnadu
65,000 people live in 105 camps
Credit card fraud / theft