Coast Guard Rules Out Illegal Transport Of Sri Lankan Refugees From Pondy

Puducherry Coast Guard, Marine Police and other agencies have no information on the reported illegal transportation of 152 Sri Lankan refugees by boat from the Puducherry coast on June 13. Though there has been an unsuccessful attempt from Veerampattinam Village in 2010, the security agencies have been taken by surprise.

The Indian Coast Guard at Chennai had issued an alert about three months ago on the possibility of human trafficking from the Puducherry coast, superintendent of police,  Coastal Police, A Nandhagopal told Express. 

Based on the alert, coastal police was informed and they kept strict vigil, he said. No such activity was detected, he said, adding that the boat might not have sailed from Puducherry coast.

Puducherry Coast Guard Commandant N Somasundaram, said, “There is no such information, and with the Coast Guard network being strong, any such attempt would have been  detected,” said Somasundaram.

However, there are reason to suspect that the boat could have left from Puducherry without being noticed.

In 2010, around 37 to 40 Sri Lankan refugees had boarded a boat off the coast of Veerampattinam to set sail for Australia. However, they could not start the voyage as the boat developed a snag. The refugees returned to shore and went back to their respective camps.

Interestingly, it got detected during the visit of Sonia Gandhi when intelligence agencies detected the use of two satellite phones to communicate from Indira Gandhi square to Moopanar Statue. They apprehended two persons who were using the phones.

On interrogation, the two revealed the plans to illegally transport Sri Lankan refugees from Puducherry after the first attempt failed. They said the satellite phones were given to them by the then Karaikal district secretary of PMK, K Devamani. An abandoned boat found

off the Karaikal coast earlier was linked to the plan. The case was subsequently handed over to the police and 11 people were booked.

Former DMK councillor A Sakthivel from Veerampattinam fishing village (who took the boat on lease), Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam chief Logu Ayappan and Devamani were booked under NSA but were subsequently released following Ministry of Home Affairs revoking the order.

The other eight accused including a Sri Lankan national Kannan, who was living in Veerampattinam village without any documents were released by the court on bail.

Since then  Kannan has been residing in Veerampattinam. While preparing the chargesheet, the investigating agency was in a fix on whether to treat Kannan as a refugee or an illegal immigrant. (TNIE)

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