A comprehensive and unique study on the plight of Hill Tamil refugees in Tamil Nadu titled ‘Legal Analysis on the Risks of Statelessness amongst Hill Tamil Refugees’ conducted by, School of Law, Ansal University was the subject of a scintillating Round Table discussion in Ansal University on 20th December 2016. The study, supported by the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) is perhaps the first of its kind in India that seeks to analyze the legal lacunae leading to statelessness among Hill Tamils Refugees in India (a subset of the Tamil Minority community in Sri Lanka who migrated to colonial Sri Lanka as plantation labourers in the central part of the country during the 19th Century). “Even after the continuous effort from both Indian and Sri Lankan Government, lacunae in the law and administrative policies make Hill Tamils vulnerable to statelessness,” said Prof. Dr. Sanoj Rajan Dean, School of Law who is also the director of this research project. The study categorised Hill Tamil refugees lodged in Tamil Nadu refugee camps into three broad categories who are either stateless or at the risk of statelessness in the absence of immediate state intervention. Legal and policy roadblocks surrounding the citizenship claims of each of these three categories and the solutions to this intractable humanitarian crisis spanning close to four decades was analysed threadbare.
The study is expected to lay the groundwork for concrete legal and policy interventions by the Government of India and Government of Sri Lanka to find a solution to the plight of Hill Tamils in addition to striking a chord with Refugee and Humanitarian Law researchers. It also assumes contextual significance in the wake of the recent amendment to the Citizenship Act, 1955 which conspicuously omits any reference to the Hill Tamil refugee community in India who reside in Refugee camps without any clear cut legal status and citizenship claims.