Twenty-one of the 151 Sri Lankan Tamils taken into custody by the Kollam police on Sunday night were arrested on Tuesday for violating the Foreigners Act.
They were produced before the Judicial First Class Magistrate Court-2 here and remanded for 14 days.
Sindhuja and Muthumalar, two women among the arrested, were lodged in the Kottarakara sub-jail. Their three children, all infants, were lodged with them in the same jail; three other minors, children of some of the arrested, were sent to the juvenile home here. The 19 were sent to the district jail.
Assistant Commissioner of Police Thomson Jose said they were arrested as they did not possess any valid documents to be in India.
Assistant Public Prosecutor Manjula Itty said the arrest was based on a case registered by the Kollam police under Section 14 (C) of the Foreigners Act. All of them were from Sri Lanka's Tamil-majority Northern Province, mostly Jaffna and Vavuniya districts.
Six others wanted by the police under Sections 420 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code are at large. They are three agents and three crew members of the fishing boat, in which the 151 people were allegedly being taken to Australia.
The agents, hailing from Tamil Nadu, have been identified as Dineshan, Nishanthan and Sivadasan. The crew members have not been identified, but listed as persons who can be identified at sight. The agents had taken sums ranging from Sri Lankan rupee 1 lakh to 5 lakh from the 151 people for smuggling them to Australia on an 18-day journey.
The remaining 124 Sri Lankan Tamils are those who sneaked out of refugee camps in Tamil Nadu.
They have been listed as witnesses. They will be sent back to their camps. A Tamil Nadu police team will arrive here on Wednesday.
These people alleged that they sneaked out of the camps because of the tough life there. They requested the Kollam police to make sure that they were produced before some senior police officer in Chennai, instead of being sent directly to the camps, so that they could explain their woes in the camps.
Of the 151 Sri Lankan Tamils, 136 were taken into custody from a fishing boat off the Kollam coast, and the others from Mukkad in Kollam. The boat was bought by the agents after it was marked out for being condemned by its owner.