V M P Nehru alias Eela Nehru facing deportation to Sri Lanka, got a reprieve on Thursday, when the Madras high court restrained the Tamil Nadu government and the Centre from deporting him to Sri Lanka till August 28.
A division bench comprising Justice V Dhanapalan and Justice C T Selvam granted the interim relief to the Lankan Tamil on a habeas corpus petition filed by his wife Santhira Leela, who said he faced threat to his life if sent back to Sri Lanka.
With deportation orders being issued against Lankan Tamils suspected of having had LTTE links, human rights activists in the state have voiced their objections to any Lankan Tamil being deported back to the island. “It is akin to signing a death warrant for them,” said V Suresh, national general secretary of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties ( PUCL). He has written to Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa requesting her to persuade the Centre to withdraw the deportation orders against three persons – Nehru, Soundarajan and Chenthuran – and “ensure that they are not forcibly taken back to Sri Lanka”.
On Thursday, Santhira Leela pleaded at the high court saying her husband, who was neither a militant nor involved in terrorist activities anywhere, was facing the prospect of being deported to Sri Lanka by force. Noting that her family was eking out a livelihood by humble means, she said he had been needlessly detained in the Trichy prison following an order by the state public secretary on July 17, 2012.
Her counsel informed the court that there was a definite threat to his life if sent back to Sri Lanka. Acceding to their requests, the bench said: “The respondents – state public secretary, Kancheepuram district collector and the Union home secretary – are directed to maintain status quo till August 27,” the judges said, adjourning the matter to August 27 for further hearing.