As many as 123 Sri Lankan Tamil refugees from various camps in Tamil Nadu who were caught while trying to escape to Australia through the Sakthikulangara coast near Kollam in Kerala, were handed over to Mandapam special deputy collector for refugee rehabilitation in Tirunelveli on Wednesday.
Speaking to reporters later, the refugees said they had tried to escape out of India as they were unhappy with their present status.
“Most of our men who have escaped to Australia have managed to get Australian citizenship within a year and so we too want to go there for a better life,” said a woman refugee, adding they were aware of the risks involved in trying to make the journey in mechanised fishing boats.
“If we were lucky we would have got there,” said a male Tamil refugee, revealing that some of his relatives from the campsites had already reached Australia through Kerala.
Of 151 refugees detained at Sakthikulangara on Sunday, 28, including six children and two women, were remanded to judicial custody as they did not have proper documents to prove they were from refugee camps in TN, Deccan Chronicle reported.
While 20 men have been sent to Kollam sub-jail, two women have been remanded to Kottarakarai women’s prison and four children to the juvenile home in Kollam, said Kollam west police circle inspector, Y. Khamarudeen, who escorted the refugees to Tirunelveli.
The other refugees from 17 refugee camps in TN were handed over to Mandapam transit camp special deputy collector and include 87 men, 17 women and 19 children.
Twenty seven are from Mandapam transit camp, 17 from Puzhal camp and 14 from Paramathi in Namakkal district. The five Sri Lankan refugees missing from the camp in Kanyakumari district are among the refugees detained.