Three Sri Lankan refugees and a Nagapattinam-based fisherman, who made an attempt to illegally transport refugees to Australia last week, have been remanded in judicial custody.

The three Sri Lankan refugees, who had acted as agents, were sent to Puzhal prison in Chennai, while the fisherman was remanded in a sub-jail here.

Uma Ramanan alias Ramanan (40) of Tiruvavaduthur in Madurai, Babu (35) off Keezhpudupadhi in Villupuram and Daya (31) of M. Mettupatti in Namakkal, all non-camp refugees, and Senthil (30) of Tsunami Kudiyruppu in Seruthur, Nagapattinam, were rounded up after a fibre boat with food supplies and 7,000 litres of diesel was found anchored near Keechankuappam on Friday. The vessel belonged to Senthil, a local, who was paid an advance of Rs.10 lakh of the promised amount of Rs.25 lakh for the boat. The remaining amount was to be paid after the refugees boarded the boat.

According to Q Branch sources, the three agents were involved in such incidents since January this year.

Plan foiled

The first incident was a case of 50 Tamil refugees stranded in Kumily on Kerala border, after their plan was foiled by Q Branch sleuths.

In April, 120 camp refugees were found stranded after their overcrowded boat developed a snag few nautical miles off Velankanni coast in Nagapattinam.

In May this year, a few Tamil refugees, lured by similar promise of a safe haven in Australia, were found stranded in Kuniamuthur in Coimbatore.

The men were were charged with Section 406 (criminal breach of trust); Section 120B (party to criminal conspiracy) and Section 420 (cheating).

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