MADURAI: In what appears to be a shocking lapse in coastal security, a suspect held for human trafficking has allegedly confessed to the Q Branch police in Madurai that he facilitated the entry of at least 100 illegal immigrants in five different night trips on boats in the recent past.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) and Q branch were aware of only two of these trips, and had secured over 60 Sri Lankans who had entered India illegally.
The suspect, Starwin, made this confession after the police took him into custody in Madurai. Days before his arrest in Thoothukudi, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on June 11 arrested 38 Sri Lankans and a few Indians in Mangalore in connection with the case.
The Q Branch police in Madurai arrested 23 Sri Lankans and a few others on similar charges within hours of the NIA’s arrests.
Since both cases were linked, the NIA took the suspects in the Madurai case into custody for an inquiry.
Similarly, the Q Branch police took Starwin into custody, during which he allegedly said apart from these two batches of illegal immigrants, three batches of Sri Lankans entered India to escape to another country, and recently reached Mangalore.
A senior official from the Coastal Security Group said they are yet to study how these immigrants entered India as they haven’t received any official communication from the NIA.
However, patrolling has been increased in the waters and at coastal villages, the official added.
The Coastal Security Group is working with other departments to curb the entry of illegal immigrants, and has recently started patrolling the waters at night, the official said.
Sources pointed out how the country had taken several steps to improve coastal security and prevent people from sneaking in, following the Mumbai terror attack.
Pressing need for an increase in patrolling
The perpetrators of the Mumbai terror attack entered India through the Arabian Sea, after which vigil was stepped up.
But in recent years, personnel seem to have let their guard down, as evidenced by the recent entry of illegal immigrants from Sri Lanka