Close watch on  Sri Lankan repatriates in Kerala

PUNALUR: IANS Ever since the Sri Lankan army started its campaign against the LTTE in Sri Lanka, police in Kerala have been keeping a close watch on the nearly 700 families repatriated from the island nation and settled here in the early 1970s.

These families since then have been working in the 2,070-hectare rubber plantation of the government-owned Rehabilitation Plantations, situated about 100 km from the state capital.

Kollam district superintendent of police M.R. Ajith Kumar told IANS that though they had no official communication to keep a close watch on these families, "it was natural that we keep our eyes and ears open.

"For the past three months, we are cautious and keeping a close watch on the Kollam coastline. Likewise at the rehabilitation plantations also where the Sri Lankans stay, we are quite observant and there is nothing beyond that," he said.

The plantation scheme was started in 1972 for the settlement of these families, repatriated to India under the Sirimavo-Shastri Agreement of 1964. This scheme was later converted into a government company in 1976.

The company’s managing director B. Shivaraju told IANS that there are 700 repatriated families from Sri Lanka in the plantation.

"Two members from each family are employed and at present, we have a total of 1,167 workers, 197 staff members and 34 officers in the company," he said.

Around 452 workers are engaged in tapping and collection of fresh rubber latex.

"The Sri Lankan workers are aware of what is happening in their country but we are yet to come across any sort of open remarks made by these workers about it. From what we have seen, they do not appear to be much concerned about the developments," added Raju.

The company provides accommodation to all the employees. Occasionally they go to Sri Lanka as well.

"In the last three months, I do not recall any worker applying for leave. At the estate, everything is fine and work is going on smoothly," Raju added. (Indian Express)

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