Several Indian media reported that the United States Navy captured more than 50 Sri Lankan Tamil refugees near the militarised island Diego Garcia on Maldives’ territorial waters.
The US navy early on Friday apprehended 85 Sri Lankan Tamils, including 59 Lankan refugees suspected to have escaped from refugee camps in Madurai and Trichy, from a stranded ferry near the Diego Garcia island, Times of India (TOI) reported.
According to the police sources, the group travelled from Kerala to South Africa on the illegal ferry to reach Canada to seek asylum.
Meanwhile, the Kerala media Manorama reported that the boat, which was intercepted by the US Navy between Maldives and Mauritius in the Indian Ocean, was carrying 59 Sri Lankan Tamils.
The boat was purchased by one Easwari of Kulathupuzha in Kollam district of Kerala six months ago from Shereef, belonging to Neendakara, also in Kollam. Easwari had told Shareef that she was buying the boat for a relative at Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu. Officials said that Easwari was probably only an intermediary as there were legal restrictions on selling a fishing boat to persons outside the state.
Manorama further reports, earlier, it had been reported that a boat that had left Colachel harbour in Tamil Nadu for fishing 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.