A major human trafficking module has been busted after 38 Sri Lankan nationals were arrested in Mangaluru, Karnataka. Mangaluru City Police Commissioner N. Shashi Kumar confirmed the news adding that they were living here for the past two months with the help of a few locals.
The Lankan nationals landed somewhere on the Tamil Nadu coast near Thoothukudi on March 17th. Initially they were staying in lodges in Madurai and Salem, and later shifted to Bengaluru and then to Mangaluru.
The detainees say that they paid 10 lakh Sril Lankan rupees (around 3 lakh INR) each after traffickers promised them illegal entry into Canada using container ships or private boats. None of them were carrying their passports. Initially, there were 39 Lankans in the group, but one person aged around 65-70 years returned.
They claim that there was heat from heightened vigilance in view of the assembly polls in TN following which they were moved to Karnataka. Six Mangaluru locals, who helped the illegals with food and accommodation have also been arrested. While in Mangaluru, the Lankans disguised themselves as daily wage workers and fishermen from Tamil Nadu which probably means that they are Tamil speakers from either the North or East of their country.
In the past, Sri Lankan Tamil refugees have been arrested while attempting to illegally migrate to Australia by boat from Mangaluru and Aluva, Kerala.
Mangaluru falls in Dakshin Kannada district and is adjacent to North Kerala districts like Kasargod, Wayanad, Kannur. This entire region is plagued with Islamic radicalism and the North Kerala region in particular has become a terrorist hub and the base of Islamist groups like PFI. So it should be investigated whether such human trafficking is also being used to fund terror activities.
Intelligence agencies had zeroed in on a couple of hotels and cottages and the inputs were shared with both Tamil Nadu and Karnataka crime branches that ended in detention. Mangaluru city police later reported to the Ministry of External Affairs that they have the Sri Lankan illegals in their custody.
A case has been registered against them in Mangaluru South Police Station under various sections including the Foreigners Act and the Passport Act, and further investigation is on. A team from Tamil Nadu including a DSP ranked officer and an Inspector has arrived in Mangaluru and will be a part of the investigation. Police have now informed citizens to report suspicious activities/ individuals and when people fail to produce proper documents in hotels and lodges.
Hindustan Times reports that 23 illegal Sri Lankan immigrants have also been arrested from Madurai in Tamil Nadu, along with 4 agents who were helping them. This brings the total number of Sri Lankan nationals arrested to 61.
Such attempts at illegal migration indicate that the condition of Sri Lankan Tamils continues to be poor, despite Sri Lanka’s overall economic development. Over a decade has passed since the civil war ended in the island nation amidst reports of gross human rights abuses and massacres of civilians by the Sri Lankan Army. However, Tamils continue to face discrimination in the country where Sinhalese Buddhists are a majority, and the situation has worsened for them ever since the Rajapaksa brothers came back to power in late 2019.
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