Sri Lankan refugees thank Indian forces

People who fled from Lanka expressed their gratitude to the Indian forces for rescuing them.

india Updated: May 27, 2006 21:08 IST

People who fled from violence-hit Sri Lanka on Saturday expressed their gratitude to the Indian Navy and Coast Guard for rescuing and bringing them to refugee camps in Tamil Nadu.

Sivaranjani from Arichalmunai in Northern Sri Lanka, now at the Mandapam transit camp, narrated her horrifying experience to reporters. Their fibreglass boat carrying 50 refugees was tossed in the rough sea, drenching her two-month old baby.

"The journey was a nightmare and I could not even get milk for the baby before leaving the island. We were also dropped on a sand dune". Starved for over four days, the Indian Navy who saved us, kept us alive by offering some food.

Another mother, Sasikumari's new-born baby was completely drenched in the sea-water which entered the boat. Sasikumari who reached the Indian coast Wednesday, said they were hiding in a jungle for two days without food before leaving Sri Lanka, fearing arrest by the armed forces there.

"Though the intention of the Sri Lankan army might be to chase the LTTE and weaken it in the Tamil-dominated areas, they attack the civilian areas to achieve this objective, another refugee, Manoj said adding he had to stay in a jungle for several days before fleeing to India.

"The Indian forces were very liberal. Most of the refugees dropped by the illegal ferry operators at the islets mid sea were rescued by the Naval men and Coast guard". Navalmen from India even offered us biscuits and bread mid-sea and we are grateful to them for ever", he said.

As many as 2,664 refugees have arrived at the Indian coast since January, as per official sources.

First Published: May 27, 2006 21:08 IST