Ten Sri Lankans, including a minor, who were planning to illegally migrate to Australia were arrested by the police from a lodge here on Thursday night. The police are also trying to trace Ramesh, the agent who was allegedly helping the Lankans.
The arrested are Pradeepan, 18, Prakashan, 19, Kapil Rishanta, 19, Premnath, 21, Udanan, 32, Thiruselvam, 43, Kathirnathan, 42, Chandran, 33, and Thamizh Selvan, 34, besides the minor. The police also seizAed a sum of nearly `2 lakh from the arrested.
According to police, they were Sri Lankan refugees who had been in relief camps at various centres in Tamil Nadu. The refugees came to Aluva by train from Madurai. The police said they came to Kerala through Ramesh, and according to the plan, he was to help them board a small fishing boat in Kochi, which was to take them to the outer sea where they would be transferred to a larger vessel.
The police have launched search operations to nab Ramesh. His mobile number has been handed over to the Cyber Cell. The refugees said they had not seen Ramesh. They said they had paid him money on the promise of jobs in Australia, and the transactions were carried out on the basis of instructions given via mobile phone. Five mobile phones were seized from the refugees.
The police are trying to find out if Ramesh is part of a major human trafficking racket operating internationally. The Sri Lankans have been arrested under Section 13 and 14 of the Foreigners Act, 1946, and Section 31 of the Passport Act, 1920. They were not carrying passports or travel documents but only ID cards to prove they had been working in Sri Lanka.