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Human trafficking probe put on the back burner?

March 12, 2013 01:51 am | Updated 01:51 am IST - KOCHI:

The case, involving police officials and reported to be one of the biggest instances of human trafficking, seems to have gone down in the priority of the State police. Almost the entire team of the Ernakulam Crime Branch unit that was into the probe has been disbanded due to retirement and transfers, and now, the investigation is in limbo.

“We have discussed the issue and it has been decided to constitute a new team at the earliest,” is what the State Director General of Police K.S. Balasubramanian has to say. But it has been made clear that the case is not in the top priority list. At present, the Crime Branch is handling two other major cases, this is the third one. “It might take at least three to four months before we can have a final view about the case,” he told The Hindu over the phone.

P.M. Varghese, Deputy Superintendent of Police, Crime Branch CID (Organised Crime Wing)-II retired from service last month and Biju K. Stephen, Circle Inspector, was promoted and transferred as DySP, Administration, Pathanamthitta.

The case hogged headlines after P.A. Ajeeb, a Civil Police Officer, who was arraigned as the main accused, was arrested after being on the run for more than a month.

He was accused of human trafficking in connivance with various travel agents misusing his official position at the Cochin International Airport between 2007 and 2011.

The investigation that followed showed that even though the money was mostly channelled through the bank account operated by Ajeeb’s father, the policeman was just a coordinator and he could not have operated without the knowledge of senior police officials.

It was decided that all the police officials posted on deputation at CIAL during this period would be brought under the scanner. Minister for Home Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan had also gone on record saying that the passenger movement through the other two airports in the State would also be scrutinised. But nothing seemed to have progressed on those fronts.

At present, the case is being monitored by Vinson M. Paul, Additional Director General of Police, Intelligence, and M.R. Ajith Kumar, Inspector General of Police, Intelligence. A review of the progress of the case was done at the top level a fortnight ago.

It is learnt that Ajeeb has given statements against many of his senior officials, but the Crime Branch team has arrested only Ajeeb and another person named Abdul Hameed Savad, a contract employee with Saudi Airlines.

Even though there was a suggestion that at least Mr. Stephen be brought back to the team so as to put the investigation back on track.

“No such specific request has been brought to my notice till now, but this will be requested of the ADGP,” said Mr. Balasubramanian.

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