Bengaluru: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has arrested a 39-year-old man, wanted in a human-trafficking case involving Sri Lankan nationals, from Tamil Nadu after a hunt of more than two years, an official said.
Mohamed Imran Khan alias “Haja Najerbheeden”, allegedly a key figure in the case, was on the run since June 2021, a spokesperson of the federal agency said.
The official said the Absconder Tracking Team (ATT) from the NIA’s Bengaluru office monitored Khan’s movements for the last several months, leading to his arrest from Theni district in Tamil Nadu on Sunday.
The NIA spokesperson said a preliminary investigation has revealed that Khan, a resident of Ramanathapuram in Tamil Nadu, is a notorious smuggler with a long-standing history of illegal activities in the region.
“He was a fugitive wanted by multiple law-enforcement agencies for his involvement in various illicit operations,” the official said.
The spokesperson said the instant case originated when the Mangalore South Police acted on credible intelligence that a group of Sri Lankan nationals had arrived and taken residence in Mangalore in Karnataka without possessing valid documents. An operation led to the arrest of 38 Sri Lankan nationals from Mangalore on June 6, 2021.
“Investigations revealed that Sri Lankan nationals were brought to Mangalore from Sri Lanka via Tamil Nadu and Bengaluru. Recognising the international dimensions of the case, the NIA intervened and re-registered the case,” the spokesperson said.
The official said the investigation revealed that Khan, in collaboration with a Sri Lankan national, Eesan, formerly associated with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), devised a plan to illegally transport 38 Sri Lankan nationals from their home country to various locations in Tamil Nadu.
“They lured these individuals with false promises, including the prospect of obtaining legitimate documentation for emigration to Canada and securing employment opportunities. Khan, along with the other co-accused, trafficked Sri Lankan nationals to various locations in Bengaluru and Mangaluru,” the spokesperson said.
The investigation also revealed that Khan is a pivotal figure in a broader conspiracy involving international human trafficking.
“He acted as the main conduit responsible for transporting Sri Lankan nationals from their home country to India and subsequently, to other nations,” the NIA spokesperson said.
The federal agency filed a preliminary chargesheet against five individuals — Dhinakaran alias “Ayya”, Kasi Viswanathan, Rasool, Satham Ushen and Abdul Muheetu — on October 5, 2021, while a total of 13 suspects have so far been arraigned by it in the case.
(Published 23 October 2023, 16:28 IST)