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Lankans nabbed in Kerala:

Police stumble on human trafficking racket

Kerala police Saturday stumbled on a human trafficking racket following the detention of 38 Sri Lankan Tamil refugees from a lodge in Kollam district. The group, which included five women and as many children, were picked up late Friday night following intelligence inputs from Tamil Nadu police. All India Congress Committee General Secretary Rahul Gandhi is due to visit the district this week in connection with the Indian Youth Congress organisational polls.

While the women and children were allowed to remain in the lodge, the men were taken to the Kollam East Police station. Initially, they claimed that they were Indian citizens.

However, on further questioning, one of them, who knew English, disclosed that he hailed from Mullaitivu.

They had migrated to Tamil Nadu from Sri Lanka within the last two years.

“They revealed that two agents by name Siva and Dennis had promised to take them to Australia. The agents took Rs 2 lakhs to Rs 5 lakhs from each of them,’’ Kollam SP Harshita Attalluri told Times of India. “Dennis has been detained and we are booking a case against him,’’ she added.

According to sources, interrogation of the agent revealed that the refugees were due to be ferried in ships bound for Australia. Many did not have proper travel documents. The agent, who had taken the money from them, had asked them to reach Kollam so that they could be sent further to Australia. While some came through the sea route from Rameswaram, others took the air route via Kochi.

Sources in Tamil Nadu’s Q branch said it was not unusual for refugees to leave for jobs and not return. Instead they crossed the state borders to link up with agents in an attempt to reach US, Canada, Europe or Australia.

Leaving nothing to chance, sleuths from the Intelligence Bureau also quizzed the refugees. The SP added that the police had not come across anything so far to link them with the outlawed LTTE. “We are still interrogating them,’’ she said.

Police are now examining if some groups had already been dispatched to the Commonwealth country by the agent in a similar manner. Though Attalluri said it was too early to say anything on this, sources pointed out that this was the third such group. About 50 people in two groups had already been sent to Australia, they added. The Times of India.

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