KOCHI: For human trafficking rackets transporting Sri Lankan Tamils from South Indian coast to Australia, the choice has been always between East Coast in Tamil Nadu or West Coast in Kerala for carrying out their operations.
When Sri Lankan Navy tightens their surveillance in the Bay of Bengal, the rackets shift their operation to Kerala and this shift has been taking place for the past few years.
As per the probe conducted by the Kerala Police into the latest incident of suspected human trafficking from Munambam, both the main accused in the case – Sreekanthan, 30, and Selvam, 45, of Tamil Nadu – have been into human trafficking for the last couple of years, switching their operational base between Tamil Nadu and Kerala coasts.
“When Sri Lankan Navy and Indian Navy tighten surveillance in the Bay of Bengal, they shift to the Kerala coast. We are collecting more details about Sreekanthan and Selvam,” said Ernakulam District Police Chief Rahul R Nair. The police have also verified the bank transactions of both Sreekanthan and Selvam.
Intelligence agencies have confirmed that there are big-time agencies operating in Tamil Nadu to help Sri Lankan Tamils illegally migrate to Europe and Australia. A probe is also on to trace the local connect of both Sreekanthan and Selvam. “It’s found that Sreekanthan had some strong network in Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi. We are verifying certain inputs to trace his local contacts,” police officers said.
Do these illegal immigrants make it to the dream destination?
It’s hard to trace the whereabouts of the people who use fishing vessels to sail to Australia. Whether they had made it to their destination or not remain an unsolved question. Tracking down a fishing boat with illegal immigrants in high seas is not an easy task.
Enforcement agencies have another possible theory, explaining how the rackets operate: The people are loaded to big vessels (mainly merchant vessels) in mid-seas and offloaded again to boats about 100 to 200 nautical miles off the destination coast. Luck also plays a major part during the transit as there is the possibility of these boats capsizing due to rough weather.