Sulochana Ramiah Mohan
Thirty six out of the 73 boat people returned to Sri Lanka by the Australian authorities on 14 and 15 October were remanded until 29 October by the Negombo Magistrate.
The batch of forced returnees, who arrived in the island on flights ASY 1123 and ASY 1125 were arrested at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA). According
to Police Spokesperson, SSP Ajith Rohana, ……the reason for remanding the returnees was that some of them had attempted to reach Australia by boats on more than one occasion.The SSP said, the rest of the boat people were released on bail.He added that the three people, who had facilitated the boat people – two Tamils and one Sinhalese – are also among the remanded persons.
According to BIA sources, flight ASY1123 that touched down at 11:55 a.m. on Monday, 14 October, had carried 40 forced returnees and on 15 October, flight ASY 1125 had brought in 33 boat people.According to sources at the BIA, CID officers had then moved the illegal asylum seekers to the Negombo Magistrate’s Courts and had thereafter transferred them to various prisons.
The airport officials confirmed that the 73 boat people were requested to fill up a form issued by them, which required details such as the name in full, date of birth, postal address in Sri Lanka, names of siblings, the number of males and females in the family and the names of immediate relatives.According to sources, among the 40 forced returnees who arrived on 14 October, there were 18 males, 11 females, 11 children, all of them, of Tamil ethnicity. Among them, 36 were from Vavuniya, two from Trincomalee and one person from Gampaha.
Among the returnees who arrived on 15 October, there were 21 males, six females and six children. The sources further revealed that 32 were from the Jaffna District and one from Batticaloa.Meanwhile, Ceylon Today learns that some of the boat people have been handed over to the Terrorist Investigation Department (TID), claimed by their relatives. However, SSP Rohana denied the allegation.“No boat people were handed over to the TID and there is no truth in it whatsoever,” he added.