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SOURCE: INDIA TODAY

Sri Lanka’s Navy has arrested a family of Tamils who lived in India as refugees, and were trying to return home in an illegal boat. They were travelling with a 11-month-old infant.

 Sajan, Chandralekha and two children — eight-year-old Snathana and her infant sister — left their camp in Tamil Nadu’s Ramanathapuram district, and were on their way to Trincomalee, their hometown in Sri Lanka. The Navy learned of their plan after speaking to crew members from their boat.

Sajan and his family aren’t the only ones who want to go home. Just like them, many others have tried to leave India illegally in recent weeks, and have been taken into custody.

In fact, more than 24 cases involving attempts to escape to Sri Lanka have been registered since April. Refugees have risked making the trip home ever since Sri Lanka’s bloody civil war ended nine years ago, but stringent laws have caused many to stay.

Sri Lanka has faced the United Nations Human Rights Council’s ire for alleged human rights abuses during the last phase of the three-decade-long conflict.

The UNHRC has demanded accountability mechanisms to probe rights abuses blamed on both the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and government forces.

The bomb fell on the place [where] we were living. These are the silent ones. We realised only after the area was bombarded. There was smoke all around. I didn’t know anything. My hand was sliced and splinters lodged in my chest. My son picked me up and hid me. I asked him to look for my daughters. He assured me that everything was fine. But he knew all were dead. All my children died. Nothing is left…On that day of the war alone I saw 3,000 people die before my eyes.

– Rosy, a Tamil woman from Sri Lanka, narrating her ordeal in a 2011 interview

But Sri Lanka is averse to the establishment of a hybrid court (with local and foreign judges) to investigate alleged crimes committed by both sides in the last phase of the war.

In January, the noted photographer Benjamin Dix told PTI that atrocities committed against Tamils during the conflict amounted to ethnic cleansing – and that even today, a huge drive is under way to change the demography of the Tamil-dominated region.

“It is very fair to say that the Army committed genocide,” Dix, a former UN staffer, said.