Picked up by the police at a berthing yard at Akkaraigori

The “Q” Branch personnel have foiled an attempt by 28 Sri Lankan Tamil refugees to cross over to Australia illegally from the Cuddalore Port area.

The refugees were picked up by the police at a berthing yard at Akkaraigori on Tuesday night. Based on a complaint from one of the refugees, the police on Wednesday arrested six persons under Sections 420 (cheating) and 120 B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code.

The refugees were promised of lucrative jobs in Australia and safe passage to the country for a payment of Rs 1 lakh per head by Sundar and Ravi, the inmates of Bhavanisagar and Puzhal camps, the police said.

They asked the refugees across the State to proceed to Cuddalore main bus stand on August 27. From the bus stand they would be picked up in a car and taken to Akkaraigori. The vessel, bearing a registration number TN 15 MF 1342 and inscriptions “Velankannai Thunai and Sri Vinayagar Thunai,” would take them to Australia.

When the refugees reached the berthing yard, they found nobody.

Deputy Superintendent of Police (“Q” Branch) T. Vellaisamy told the presspersons that of the 28 Tamil refugees, 18 were registered with various camps located at Namakkal, Thiruvallur, Tiruchi, Erode, Coimbatore and Mandapam and the rest were unregistered refugees from Kanyakumari.

He said the agents had discreet communication network which could be deciphered only those in the close circles. The unregistered refugees would be handed over to the Social Rehabilitation Department for further action. The police impounded the boat and sent back the refugees to their respective camps.

The arrested are identified as V. Velu (39) of Vambakeerapalayam in Puducherry, the launch owner; C. Ezhilselvam (30) and S. Murugan (30) of Thevanampattinam, fishermen who were slated to operate the boat; M. Jothi Raja and C. Vedhagiri (48) of Wallajabad in Kancheepuram district and D.Veeramani (48) of Melur in Madurai district (all sub-agents).

Sundar and Ravi, who reportedly colluded with the organisers, are absconding.

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