Immigration officials at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport claimed to have prevented four Sri Lankans from illegally entering the UK last week and caught four British nationals for allegedly aiding them.
The eight accused were later arrested and produced in court. They have been remanded in police custody for two days.
The Sri Lankans had been travelling with forged Indian passports, police said, as they thought they would have problems entering the UK using their Sri Lankan documents .
On March 10 night, immigration officials were tipped off that a British national, Julie Ann Warner, who was involved in human trafficking cases, would be flying from Mumbai to London on March 11 early morning on a British Airways flight.
The officials found that Earner was flying with three other British nationals who had collected their boarding passes and were about to go through Gate 78 at the terminal.
At gate 78, the immigration officers found that British national Fivehats Captain was flying with an Indian passport registered in Tiruchirapalli that bore an immigration stamp. During questioning, the man confessed that his name was Arunasalam Suthakaran and his fellow travelers – Kannathsan Karththeepan and Gajan Chandrabalan had Indian passports with the, names Stuart Alan Quilliam and Dominic Oliver Bower.
Police officers said, when a Sri Lankan woman, Kandasamy Kaveenthini, saw her fellow travelers had been caught, she fled. “She ran into a bathroom and tore her forged Indian passport and boarding pass for the London flight,” said an official at Sahar police station. When confronted, Kaveenthini allegedly confessed that she had assumed the identity of Julie Ann Warner.
The Sri Lankans then told the immigration officials that the British nationals whose names they had used to forge the travel documents were flying to Ahmedabad on an Air India flight scheduled to take off soon. According to the police, the British nationals were asked to alight from and taken into custody.
Investigations have revealed that an Indian agent named Rajan and a Sri Lankan agent named Mahamuni Logorajan had brought the British and Sri Lankans together.
“It is difficult for Sri Lankans to travel to the UK because of the refugee problem there. So, the agents obtained forged Indian passports which bore names of British nationals,” said Virendra Mishra, the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Zone VIII.
Mishra added that the British nationals had arrived in India on March 2 and the Sri Lankans had reached on March 9.
Rajan, who the police believe had gone to Ahmedabad, arranged for them to stay at a hotel in Mumbai and booked four tickets for them in an Air India flight to Ahmedabad on March 11.
On March 10 night, the Sri Lankan nationals collected boarding passes for the Ahmedabad flight and Rajan met them inside the airport and introduced them to the British nationals. “The Sri Lankans skipped immigration and went to the international departure gates,” Mishra said.
Meanwhile, the police said, the British nationals had collected boarding passes for their London flight and handed them over to the Sri Lankan nationals. “The British were flying to Ahmedabad and were to return to the UK a few days later,” Mishra said.
Preliminary probe has revealed that the forged passports belong to people living in Pattukotai, Alangudi and Atthipattu in Tamil Nadu, the police said.
The police are looking into the travel details of Warner, who they suspect was involved. “We don’t know how much money the British were paid. We have found that Warner visited India in January but we do not know the purpose,” said an officer.