Kochi: Over five months after around 240 people sailed off on a boat from Munambam in Kerala, in what is suspected to be an illegal immigration bid, 'blue corner notices' for 100 of them have been issued with the help of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Interpol, a Kerala Police official said on Monday.
These notices seek to locate, identify or obtain information about a person of interest in a criminal investigation.
Last week, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said it had sensitised and alerted several countries in the region about the missing vessel but was yet to receive any information from them.
The vessel, named Deva Matha 2, had set off from Munambam in Kerala’s Ernakulam district on January 12. The Kerala Police investigation team had earlier said there were about 243 people on board.
Ernakulam Rural Assistant Superintendent of Police MJ Sojan said it was after great difficulty that they managed to track down the addresses of the people believed to be in the boat.
"We had made several trips to Delhi, to trace the address of 190 people who were residing in and around Ambedkar Nagar colony. The people there were not cooperating at all initially, but now with the passage of time, they are helping and have given us the names and other details. With this, we issued the 'blue corner notices'. We are trying our best to trace the address of the remaining people," said Sojan, who is leading the investigation.
The officer said the remaining 50 persons in the boat, which sailed on January 12, hail from Chennai and the entire group is basically of Tamil origin.
The police had grown suspicious when 80 bags, most of them weighing 40 kg, were found left on the beach after the boat sailed off and a probe was launched.
"We suspected that these were left behind by people travelling on the boat and informed the Coast Guard, Indian Navy and other agencies," Sojan said, adding there was no trace of the vessel or the people.
The police, however, found that the boat was purchased by the group for Rs 1.10 crore.
Sojan said the police also managed to take into custody 10 people, whose relatives were on board the boat. "We have also found out that most people on the boat have their friends or relatives, who managed to reach countries like Australia on similar boat trips. The arrested were also planning to go on later trips as we have found out that several people have travelled like this. All the arrested have now got bail," he added.
Local legislators S Sarma and Anwar Sadat, however, said they have no information about this episode.