The Q Branch of the Tamil Nadu Police have apprehended 14 Sri Lankan Tamil refugees at Velankanni in Nagapattinam. They had been awaiting a boat to sail illegally to Australia from Thoothukudi in South India.
The Q Branch Police had previously received information that Lankan refugees from camps in Ramanathapuram, Pudukkottai and Tiruchchi would attempt to illegally travel to Australia from Velankanni. Acting on the received information the Police proceeded to set up a post at the Nagapattinam area and conduct extensive search and surveillance operations. It was during these search operations that the Police had come across 20 Tamil refugees. When police officers had attempted to question and search the suspicious individuals 6 of them had fled the area, resulting in the arrest of the only 14 suspects.
When the arrested persons were interrogated by the police, they had revealed that some 40 Sri Lankan Tamil refugees from several Tamil Nadu camps were scheduled to group at Thoothukudi today to be transported by boat to Australia. They had also revealed that the person conducting the smuggling operation had charged each individual 100, 000 Indian rupees to travel to Australia safely. Indian media reports that the police are still conducting extensive investigation in order to apprehend the organizer of the smuggling operation.