While 48 of the detained – 42 men, five women and one boy - were traced to registries across 18 refugee camps in Tamil Nadu, a further eight men were found to be unregistered Sri Lankan Tamil refugees.

Further investigation into the 84 people detained for attempting to illegally migrate to Australia from Old Mangalore Port has revealed that only 56 are Sri Lankan Tamil refugees.

Talking to reporters on Sunday, Inspector General of Police (Western Range) C.H. Pratap Reddy said much clarity was obtained after two police officials from Tamil Nadu came to the city with a list of persons registered in refugee camps there.

While 48 of the detained – 42 men, five women and one boy - were traced to registries across 18 refugee camps in Tamil Nadu, a further eight men were found to be unregistered Sri Lankan Tamil refugees.

21 persons – seven men, 10 women, one boy and three girls – were identified as citizens of Tamil Nadu. As reported by The Hindu on Saturday, the men claimed to have come to the city to sell used clothes at a market near the Old Port when they were picked up by the police.

Three of those detained were Tamilians living in Kundapur, Karnataka, while the remaining four were from Kerala, said Mr. Reddy. Incidentally, policepersons in Pandeshwar Women’s Police Station had told The Hindu that a few women detained had been previously booked for pickpocketing. Mr. Reddy, however, said this had yet to be confirmed.

Those from refugee camps were sent back in two buses on Sunday evening to Chennai where the Commissioner of Rehabilitation would take the responsibility of documenting and releasing them in their respective camps. The rest would be released, and were free to travel back, said Mr. Reddy.

13 accused

The Mangalore City Police had arrested 13 men and detained the rest after raids in five places late on Friday. Mr. Reddy said they had planned to go to Sri Lanka, and from there to Australia, which has recently raised its limit on number of people who can seek asylum in the country, on a boat. “The boat is not sea-worthy, and the conditions for the 84 people to travel in it would be sub-human,” he said.

The owner of the boat was detained for questioning and the extent of his involvement in the illegal trafficking ring was yet to be ascertained, he added.

The accused – nine identified to be Sri Lankan Tamils, three from Tamil Nadu and one from Kerala – were produced in court, and until the order arrives on Monday would remain in police custody, said Mr. Reddy.

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