The Karnataka Police has busted a human smuggling scam involving 38 Sri Lankan nationals.

The suspects are mainly from Sri Lanka’s Northern Province.

Karnataka State Police launched the operation following intelligence reports that many Sri Lankan Nationals were illegally staying in a few rundown hotels in the City.

According to reports, 23 others also apprehended by the Police in the state of Tamil Nadu.

Initial investigations indicate that they had come to India en -route to Canada.

A team led by the commissioner of police Shashi Kumar raided three hotels and found the Sri Lankan Tamils brought to India.

Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan intelligence is also keeping abreast of the latest developments through diplomatic channels. The photographs of the arrested individuals had already been dispatched to relevant authorities for investigations, diplomatic sources said.

According to the Karnataka police, they were brought to Tuticorin port in Tamil Nadu from Sri Lankan shores by boats. They were later sent to Mangaluru and the agents were planning to smuggle them out to Canada in container ships. The coronavirus-induced lockdown upset their original plan and, these people were made to wait in some rundown hotels in the city for the right time to board the ship. Tamil Nadu and Karnataka intelligence got wind of the human trafficking ring and alerted the police.

The Sri Lankans have admitted that they paid Rs 6 lakh (1.5 million in Sri Lankan currency) per head in advance in Sri Lanka. A caretaker, an Indian national, has been arrested by the police in Mangaluru. They believe that the kingpins are either in Sri Lanka or in Canada.

Meanwhile, News 18 reported that the Karnataka police is in the process of informing the union ministry of external affairs in Delhi about the case through official channels.

The Sri Lankan deputy high commission in Chennai and the foreign ministry in Colombo are also making enquiries about the operation, though they have not been officially informed.

Canada and Australia have been the favourite destinations for Sri Lankan Tamils searching for employment and a better life. During the 30-year-long civil war, almost ten lakh people migrated to West and Pacific nations through both legal and illegal channels. (Excerpts from News 18)


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