Ernakulam Rural district police chief Harshita Attaluri in a press release stated that the police saved 32 Sri Lankan nationals. They were trying to leave for Australia without proper documents.
Nine people who made arrangements to escape were nabbed by police led by Moovattupuzha Dy SP Tomy Sebastian and Kothamangalam CI K. P. Jose on Sunday night.
The police arrested five Sri Lankans for cheating the refugees and four people of Kothamangalam for arranging houses for the refugees. The arrested are Nathan, Guru, David, Madanan and Selvan of Sri Lanka and Kuriakose, Geo, Shibu and Bibesh of Kothamangalam.
In the preliminary questioning, Police found that Sri Lankan natives were not part of any terrorist organisation.
They were staying in refugee camps in Tamil Nadu and were reportedly offered employment in Australia by some agents. The Sri Lankans were to be transported to Australia by boat.
A boat ‘Varanimol’ had been arranged from Munambam in Vypeen island by the agents to ferry the refugees to Australia.
The understanding was that the agents should be given Rs.2 to 5 lakhs by each refugee when they reach Australia.
The refugees including women and children were brought to Kerala and accommodated in houses at Kothamangalam and Pukkattupaday near Aluva.
Acting on a tip-off from a national agency, the police swung into action and raided the houses at Kothamangalam and Pukkattupady on Sunday night.
Police booked about 42 people including Sri Lankans and locals in the raid. They were immediately shifted to the Kalamassery AR Camp for detailed questioning.
The police seized the boat from Munambam. Police and national agencies like IB launched intensive investigation into the incident. (Source: IBN Live)