CHENNAI: An attempt by Sri Lankan Tamil refugess to flee through sea to Australia was foiled with police apprehending 33 of them from across the State near Pulicat lake early on Thursday. The Tiruvallur district police along with the Marine Police of the Coastal Security Group (CSG) were on high alert following a tip off from the ‘Q’ branch CID about the escape of refugees from the camps.
Preliminary investigations have suggested that the refugees were to board a boat at Pulicat posing as tourists. They would then be transferred to a ship, taking them to Australia as illegal migrants, police sources said. “There were about three vans with the refugees coming towards Pulicat. We intercepted them near the Pollachiammankulam check post,” said a police officer.
The refugees were from different camps across the State – Gummidipoondi, Puzhal, Vellore, Erode and Bavani. “There were 18 of them in one van, 10 and 5 respectively in the other two vans,” said the officer.
Investigations revealed that they were brought to a place in Kalpakkam by one Sivakumar, an agent. “Each of them had paid around `1 lakh to Sivakumar to get them out of the country,” the officer added.
Two locals – Sukumar and Suresh – were supposed to guide the vans to the spot in Pulicat but the former lost track and was apprehended by the police. Sukumar and the drivers of the van were taken into custody along with the refugees. “We have arrested whoever attempted to escape. Details of those missing from the camps have not been informed to us,” a senior police officer said. Efforts are on to trace the agent Sivakumar, a Sri Lankan Tamil, police said.