After decades of protests, hundreds of Sri Lankan Tamil repatriates, a majority of whom live in colonies in Puttur and Sullia taluks in India will be given caste certificates.
The order, sent by the Social Welfare Department, was received by the office of the Assistant Commissioner (Puttur) on Saturday and has been sent to the tahsildhars. “As soon as applications come, we can start issuing the certificates.
There are a lot of conditions to fulfil and documents to submit, but there will be no confusion now,” said AC (Puttur) H.K. Krishnamurthy.
A total of 926 families were repatriated from Sri Lanka in the 1970s.
With the Supreme Court in 1994 clarifying that “non-natives” of a State could not be given Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe certificates, tahsildhars here had refused certificates to repatriates on the grounds that they were migrants. Certificates, however, will be given only to those who were identified in a survey conducted by revenue officials over the past year. A total of 1,453 families or 6,343 people were listed as repatriates, of which 695 SC and two ST families were identified.
Around half of the households (757 families) have been identified as having passports that would enable them to obtain SC, ST, Other Backward Class, minority certificates.
The order comes with six conditions: repatriation in the 1970s should be proven through Camp certificate and Citizenship letters; passport or immigration letters from the then Sri Lankan government; an affidavit of caste vouched by five persons; caste has to be in the recognised list of the State.
While welcoming the decision as the fruit of a long struggle, K. Daiva Kumar, president, Dakshina Kannada Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe and Repatriates Welfare Association, said it had to be seen if the certificates issued will entitle them full benefits.
“When they did issue certificates to us, it was only for education and not for employment or government scheme benefits,” he said. The granting of caste certificates, however, has been opposed by numerous Dalit groups, who fear benefits for the SC/ST persons here will be watered down, The Hindu reports.