TAMIL NADU

French journalists booked for entering IRE complex

Two French journalists have been booked for entering the high security zones of Indian Rare Earths (IRE) Limited at Manavalakurichi near here, and videographing the areas where the beach sand minerals are being mined and processed.

The French nationals, Arthur Ronald Rene and Jules Daimen, could neither be questioned nor arrested as they had already left the country before the case against them was registered.

However, a Roman Catholic priest and two electronic media journalists, who reportedly accompanied the foreigners during their visit to IRE, are being grilled by the investigators.

The Manavalakurichi police have registered case against Arthur Ronald Rene, Jules Damien and Rev. Fr. Hildas, parish priest of Mela Manakkudi near Kanniyakumari under Section 447 (criminal trespass) of Indian Penal Code r/w Sections 14 A (entry into restricted areas), 14 B (using forged passport) and 14 C (abetment) of the Foreigners Act 1946.

According to a senior police officer privy to the ongoing investigation, the French duo, after landing at Delhi on November 11, came to Kanniyakumari for documenting beach sand mining, which is presently mired in various controversies.

They met Ananth Kumar of Coimbatore, now reportedly working for a Tamil satellite television channel.

Along with Ananth Kumar, his friend Sriram of Tenkasi, the French journalists reached Kanniyakumari on November 23.

After video-graphing a few places in the district, they went to IRE complex at Manavalakurichifor the shooting on Monday last.

Journos questioned

“Despite the resistance from the security personnel, the team confronted them and videographed the sensitive installation after trespassing into the prohibited zone. Since the foreign nationals have violated the visa conditions, they have been booked and the priest was faulted for having assisted them. Journalists Ananth Kumar and Sriram are being questioned. If we get evidence against them during the course of the investigation, they’ll also be booked,” said N. Sreenath, Superintendent of Police, Kanniyakumari district.

Even before the local police could reach the spot, the team left the spot.

Search on for priest

“Sensing the problem in store, Ananth Kumar and Fr. Hildas took the French nationals to the Thiruvananthapuram airport from where they went to Mumbai to take a flight to their country.

“Now, Ananth Kumar and Sriram are being questioned while the search is on for Fr. Hildas as he has been cited as one of the three accused along with the French journalists. We’ve not detained Ananth Kumar and Sriram as no case has been registered against them,” said a police officer involved in the investigation.

Arthur Ronald Rene and Jules Daimen could not be arrested as they had already left the country by taking a flight from Mumbai

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