CAA: AIADMK reiterates request for dual citizenship for Lankan Tamil refugees

There are close to 1 lakh Sri Lankan Tamil refugees living in Tamil Nadu

Modi with Palaniswami ANI Prime Minister Narendra Modi (right) with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami | Twitter handle of ANI

The AIADMK government in Tamil Nadu on Monday indicated it would continue to urge the government of India to introduce "dual citizenship" for Sri Lankan Tamil refugees.

The AIADMK had been a vocal supporter of the BJP on the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, supporting its passage in both houses of Parliament. In December, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E.K. Palaniswami had declared the Citizenship Act "will not impact any Indian living in India, whichever religion they may profess. They [Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah] have clarified in both Parliament and through the media... this will not affect Indians at all...".

On Monday, during the inauguration of the Tamil Nadu Assembly session, Governor Banwarilal Purohit in his opening address stated, "The government of Tamil Nadu will urge the government of India to provide dual citizenship to Sri Lankan Tamil refugees in Tamil Nadu. Government of Tamil Nadu will ensure that the interests of all citizens, regardless of religion or creed, are protected."

The plight of Sri Lankan Tamils has been a key issue in protests against the Citizenship Act in Tamil Nadu. There are close to 1 lakh Sri Lankan Tamil refugees living in Tamil Nadu, who have been settled in over 100 refugee camps and outside. Most of these refugees are Hindus, who fled Sri Lanka during the civil war in the island nation. The opposition DMK, which has been protesting against the Citizenship Act, had demanded the inclusion of Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka in the ambit of the legislation.

In December, Palaniswami claimed that late AIADMK supremo J. Jayalalithaa had demanded dual citizenship for Sri Lankan Tamil refugees when she met Prime Minister Narendra Modi after the 2016 Assembly polls. Palaniswami claimed he also had raised the issue with Modi after Jayalalithaa's death and added the party had raised the issue during the debate on the Citizenship Act in the Rajya Sabha.

The PMK, which contested the 2019 Lok Sabha polls in alliance with the BJP and AIADMK, had also raised the issue of dual citizenship for Sri Lankan Tamil refugees. On December 31, the party passed a resolution calling on the Centre to enter a bilateral agreement with Sri Lanka to facilitate dual citizenship for the refugees.