Colonel Karuna and Jayalalitha oppose move to grant citizenship

Tamil Nadu opposition leader J Jayalalithaa has found an unlikely ally in former LTTE leader Karuna Amman on the issue of opposing chief minister K Karunanidhi’s move to grant Indian citizenship to Tamil refugees. Sutirtho Patranobis reports.
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Updated on Oct 07, 2009 12:13 AM IST
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Hindustan Times | BySutirtho Patranobis, Colombo

Tamil Nadu opposition leader J Jayalalithaa has found an unlikely ally in former LTTE leader Karuna Amman on the issue of opposing chief minister K Karunanidhi’s move to grant Indian citizenship to Tamil refugees.

Karuna Amman, who is now the minister for national integration in President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s regime, said on Tuesday the situation in Sri Lanka was now improving and that it would be better to receive the Sri Lankan refugees back in the island.

“The situation in our country is now very good, I think it is better for us to receive the people here” the Minster told Daily Mirror online.

Karuna, whose real name is Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan, defected from the LTTE in 2004 and formed his own party.

His statement was in response to the move being contemplated by the Indian government to grant citizenship to the approximately 200,000 Sri Lankan refugees in camps in Tamil Nadu. Many live on their own while others are housed in government camps. They fled Sri Lanka to escape the war between the Tamil Tigers and the military, which began in 1983 and ended in May this year.

Home minister P Chidambaram said on Saturday that the Centre was considering Karunanidhi’s letter to PM Manmohan Singh on granting permanent resident to the Tamil refugees.

On her part, Jayalalithaa issued a strongly-worded statement opposing the move.

The former Tamil Nadu CM said that the demand by Karunanidhi “trivialised the protracted struggle of the Tamil people of Sri Lanka”.

“After having been a party to snuffing out the Tamil fight for self-determination, Karunanidhi is now trying to shed crocodile tears for the displaced Tamils,” she said.

Jayalalithaa questioned how the Indian government would react if similar claims for Indian citizenship were made by refugees from Bangladesh, Myanmar and Tibet.

“Karunanidhi has been around in politics long enough to know all this. He knows that the centre will not be able to accede to his demand. Yet he has got his son to raise this issue and he has himself described the demand as extremely significant,” she said.

“The three decades of war in Sri Lanka was for the Tamils’ right to self-determination in their own homeland,” she said.

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