The Q branch of the Tamil Nadu police, with the assistance of the Ernakulam North police, took 21 Sri Lankans who were about to sail to Australia in a fishing boat from Kochi, into custody. The operation was carried out after information about the same was passed on by the Intelligence Bureau, New India Express reported today.
According to officials, seven men, six women and eight children were nabbed from the New Cochin Residency, a hotel situated near the Ernakulam North Railway station, in the early hours of Thursday. The Sri Lankans came from Chennai by train and according to a statement issued by them, an agent named Subash took `1 lakh from each of them on Tuesday evening. “These people are from four refugee camps located near Chennai. They were planning to sail to Australia in a fishing vessel. The agent escaped during the raid. We are on the look out for him and information has been send to the police in Tamil Nadu regarding this,” an official of the Q branch said.
The Q branch officials, comprising a circle inspector and two sub inspectors, reached Kochi on Wednesday evening. The team, with the assistance of 10 officials from the Ernakulam North Police, conducted the raid. The officials have approached the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate for a transit warrant. The arrested would be taken to Chennai and produced before a local court there on Friday.
This is the second such arrest in a month. More than 60 Sri Lankans were arrested by the Sri Lankan navy after a fishing boat from India carrying refugees to Australia was cornered by them recently.