Kochi: The US Navy seized a fishing boat belonging to a woman from Kerala who was involved in human trafficking to Canada.
The boat, which was intercepted by the US Navy between the Maldives and Mauritius in the Indian Ocean, was carrying 59 Sri Lankan Tamils. According to the authorities, Sri Lankan Tamils had fled refugee camps in Tamil Nadu.
The boat was bought by a certain Easwari from Kulathupuzha in Kollam district of Kerala six months ago from Shereef, owned by Neendakara, also in Kollam. Easwari had told Shareef that she was buying the boat for a relative in Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu. Officials said Easwari was likely only a middleman as there were legal restrictions on selling a fishing boat to people outside the state.
Embark on September 22
Previously, it was reported that a boat that left Colachel harbor in Tamil Nadu to fish on September 22 was missing. The same boat was later seized by the US Navy near the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. After realizing that the boat was illegally transporting people to Canada, the US Navy turned over the boat and its occupants to the Maldivian Navy. The Maldives subsequently passed the information on to the Indian government.
Soon, Tamil Nadu’s “Q branch” confirmed that the passengers on the fishing boat were 59 Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka who had escaped from Madurai and Tiruchirappalli camps.
Currently, the central agencies as well as Directorate General Q have launched an investigation into the matter.