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Sri Lankan High Commission issues travel document for Santhan to return home

Santhan, alias T. Suthenthirarajah, a former Tamil prisoner who was released after decades in prison over the Rajiv Gandhi assassination has finally been given a travel document by the Sri Lankan High Commission - but must wait until the Regional registration officer in Chennai provides an exit permit to leave India and return home

The Indian press reported that the Tamil Nadu government today (13) informed the Madras High Court that the High Commission for Sri Lanka in Chennai had issued a temporary Travel Document for Santhan to leave India. The news comes after months of authorities in Sri Lanka and India going back and forth which has been preventing Santhan from leaving India to return to their families on the island.

Lawyers have submitted a copy of the letter written by the Deputy High Commissioner to the State government on February 2nd this year informing them of the issuance of a travel document for Santhan. The court was notified of the letter and it is presently up to the  Foreigners Regional Registration Officer (FRRO) in Chennai to spell out a date Santhan can leave. The travel document in itself is allegedly only valid till August 1, 2024.

The letter stated that the Deputy High Commission had received a request from the Ministry of External Affairs in November last year for the issuance of a travel document for Santhan who was released from prison last year. 

Recently, Santhan’s mother made an emotional plea for her son to be brought to Sri Lanka in light of his deteriorating health.

Santhan was convicted with six others for facilitating the assassination of the former Indian Premier. He  is one of four Eelam Tamils who were convicted in the assassination case, along with three other Indian nationals. They served decades in prison. However, in November 2022, the High Court released all seven individuals. Subsequently, they were transferred to the Special Camp, a detention center for foreigners located in Trichy Central Jail, where they have been held since November 2022.

Recently, Santhan fell seriously ill and was admitted to a government hospital in Chennai for treatment. As his health continued to worsen he was then transferred to a government hospital in Trichy. Reports indicate that Santhan is grappling with severe liver and kidney problems. Further medical complications resulted in Santhan being moved back to Chennai, to the Rajiv Gandhi Hospital. When the case was taken up on January 8th the attorneys representing the Central Government of India informed the court that the necessary authorization from the Sri Lankan Ministry of Foreign Affairs had not been received.

Santhan's distressed mother is urging authorities to take immediate steps for his repatriation. This plea comes after she had previously written to both Sri Lanka President Ranil Wickremasinghe and India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking their intervention to expedite her son's return.

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