By Camelia Nathaniel
V. Suresh Kumar, former Chairman of the Kadawath Satara Pradeshiya Sabha(town and gravets Pradeshiya sabha) in Trincomalee and a Tamil National Alliance (TNA) candidate in the forthcoming Eastern Provincial Council elections, was among the three suspects arrested by the CID in connection with human smuggling, Police Spokesman SP Ajith Rohana said.
According to police, the suspects have been involved in smuggling asylum seekers out to the Christmas Island in Australia.
The Sri Lanka Navy recently arrested two boats, ‘Namo Maria’ with 82 passengers on 11 July and ‘Sinhale,’ with 53 passengers on 20 July, for attempting to carry asylum seekers to Australia.
It was revealed the group of human smugglers had charged several Tamil civilians between Rs 120,000 and Rs 200,000 for the journey. Following investigations, the CID arrested 38-year-old Vellaithambi Suresh Kumar, 39-year-old Vellaithambi Sudaharan and 30-year-old Thandayudasami Karikalan on Tuesday in connection with the human smuggling operation.
It is suspected that Suresh Kumar has been liaising with the Tamil Diaspora and operating the human smuggling ring, while being an elected member of a local body. Since the three suspects are being held for human smuggling, there is no provision for bail.
So far this year, around 620 asylum seekers have been apprehended, while around 40 of them are human smugglers.
When Ceylon Today contacted TNA spokesperson Suresh Premachandran, he confirmed that Suresh Kumar was in fact their candidate from Uppuveli in Trincomalee.
However, he added, although he was aware of the incident, he would not comment on the issue until the investigations have been completed. “We are aware that there are persons in the Trincomalee area engaged in human smuggling. There is also another side to the story, and there is also speculation that certain elements are carrying out this operation in order to reduce the Tamil population in Trincomalee and on the other hand to tarnish the image of the TNA,” Premachandran alleged.
Currently, the police are conducting investigations to ascertain whether the suspects have any links with the LTTE, when conducting human smuggling operations.
The investigations have revealed the main suspect had been maintaining contacts with key LTTE operatives living abroad. The investigations are continuing to ascertain whether the suspect have received funds from the LTTE operatives abroad to conduct the smuggling operation, the police said. COURTESY:CEYLON TODAY