Fifteen Sri Lankan Tamils arrested by the Kollam police on June 3 after busting a human trafficking racket and later released from judicial custody on August 17 were to be deported to Sri Lanka from the Thiruvananthapuram airport today, the Hindu newspaper reported.
Though they were released from judicial custody, the court had made it clear that they were not free and would be lodged at Gandhi Bhavan, a charity home at Pathanapuram, till completion of the formalities for their deportation. They were not permitted to leave the charity home premises.
District Collector P.G. Thomas said on Friday that the formalities for their deportation had been completed by the Sri Lankan High Commission in Chennai. The Collector directed the police to transport them to the Thiruvananthapuram airport early Saturday morning and hand them over to the emigration authorities.
They were arrested for violating the Foreigners Act by being in the country without proper travel documents. They were part of a group of 151 Sri Lankan Tamils, including women and children, who were about to be smuggled out in a crude fishing boat to Australia.
They said they had paid money ranging from Rs.50,000 to Rs.1 lakh to agents of human traffickers for getting them to Australia. The majority of those arrested were Sri Lankan Tamil refugees housed in various refugee camps in Tamil Nadu.
Those from the camps were identified and sent back to the respective camps. But 15 men who directly came from Sri Lanka without any travel documents were arrested. The court released them from judicial custody under the provisions of a Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) notification which classifies them as victims and not accused persons.