A foiled illegal immigration bid has highlighted how Sri Lankan Tamil refugees languishing in Tamil Nadu’s Government camps continue to be duped by racketeers with promises of a better life in Australia, The Telegraph newspaper in India reported.
A senior police officer said the local and Lankan agents of a human trafficking ring exploit the refugees’ reluctance to return to Sri Lanka and their desire to escape the poor living conditions in their Tamil Nadu camps.
Activists working with refugees said the agents lure the refugees with offers of a sea trip to Australia at Indian Rs 1 lakh per head. They are told that asylum is a certainty once they reach the transit camps on Australia’s Christmas Island.
On June 2, the group of 28 from four refugee camps were caught while on their way to the Pulicat Lake, a lagoon between Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, in two vans with a bike-borne escort.
They had been told they would be posing as tourists taking a boat ride on the lake before being shifted to a vessel on the coast, which would eventually drop them at Christmas Island.
The coastal police arrested the van drivers and the escort – allegedly an agent – along with the 13 male refugees. The women and children were sent back to their camps.