On a day when the State police received a sharp rap on the knuckles from the High Court over the probe into what the police claimed as illegal emigration and what the court perceived as human trafficking of 80-odd people from Malyankara, near here, the Special Investigation Team probing the case took into custody six persons, including the suspected linchpin Selvan, from Tamil Nadu.
Selvan is suspected to be the part of the five members of the mafia that arranged the illegal emigration out of which four were suspected to have left with the illegal emigrants. The police did not reveal the names of other suspects.
Probe is on to assess whether it was human trafficking as insisted by the court, the police sources said.
The alleged illegal emigration came to light on January 12 after 19 abandoned bags filled with dry food, soft drinks and clothes were recovered from Munambam and Cherai. Next day, another 54 more bags were found at the Kodungalloor Bhagavathy temple.
The police have so far arrested three persons in the case. They are Anilkumar of Venganoor in Thiruvananthapuram; Prabhu Dandapani and Ravi Raja of Madangir in New Delhi. They had been charged with various provisions of Indian Passport Act and Emigration Act and various IPC Sections.
“We are interrogating those under custody and their statements will be corroborated against the accounts given by those already arrested,” sources said.
Initially, it was suspected to be trafficking of Sri Lankan Tamils. But the police soon found a s human trafficking angle and claimed that it was a case of illegal emigration involving Indian citizens.
Later it emerged that a mix of Indian and Sri Lankan Tamils had set sail from Malyankara on a modified fishing vessel, Dayamatha 2, which was bought shortly before the illegal trip.
The police identified Sreekanthan, a Sri Lankan national, as the prime accused with suspected linkage with the terrorist outfit LTTE. The police had recovered numerous bank passbooks and five Sri Lankan passports from his house. It emerged that the arrested, Anilkumar, who holds 70% stake in the boat, had bought it in partnership with Sreekanthan.
The police also suspect that the mafia that arranged for the illegal emigration may have attempted a similar operation in the past.