Fourteen Sri Lankan Tamil refugees from various refugee camps were apprehended here under suspicion of alleged attempt to travel to Australia via boat through an agent. The refugees were secured from a private lodge at Velankanni late Monday evening and were questioned through the night.

According to Q Branch sources, the refugees have claimed to have paid up an advance of Rs. 50,000 to the agent for the journey to Australia. However, with no facility for berthing of big boats in Velankanni, it could perhaps be a case of cheating, a Q Branch official told The Hindu. According to the refugees, they were asked to gather at a lodge in Velankanni, where the agent was supposed to have contacted them for proceeding with the promised journey to freedom and life, said the source.

The refugees have come from refugee camps at Bhavani Sagar, Erode; Kottapattur, Trichy; and Perumalpuram, Kanyakumari. “They are clearly the affected persons, and we are in look out for the agent,” the official told The Hindu.

General surveillance has been beefed up along the coasts here in Nagapattinam. A case of a ‘un identified’ boat to transport Tamil refugees was found abandoned here in Karaikal few weeks ago.