A case of mistaken identity and four days of absolute hell for NRI Sarah Thomas
news Monday, January 05, 2015 - 05:30
Haritha John | The News Minute | November 6, 2014 | 04:08 pm IST This is the kind of stuff nightmares are made of. And this could happen to anybody.Â Sarah Thomas and her family are still reeling from the shock of her arrest by immigration officials in Chennai last week, following which she spent four days in police custody. The officers had mistaken her as Sarah Williams from Kollam, a woman accused of cheating a London-based insurance firm thirteen years ago and wanted by the Interpol. Sarah Williams had faked her death and supported it with government documents, to claim insurance. It was also suspected that Williams used a passport in the name of a Sarah Thomas. Thomas' name and date of year tallied with her namesake, who is wanted by the Interpol, this is what confused the officials. Thomas, 37, is an NRI from Ranni, Pathanamthitta who works in Dubai. She had flown down to India to meet her son, who studies in Chennai. Her son, 19-year-old Kevin John Sajith, and his friends were waiting outside the Chennai airport to receive her since 8.00 am on October 29. But they did not get any information about her arrest till noon. They were also not allowed to meet her until 7.30 in the evening. The next day a frightened Kevin moved a Habeas Corpus petition in the Madras High Court, he did not even tell the rest of the family that his mother was in deep trouble. Thomas was then produced before the Alanthur magistrate court and was remanded to Puzhal Central Prison.Â â€śPuzhal prison is the worst prison in Tamil Nadu, and she was kept there for two days. It is very difficult for an innocent person to be there. She experienced severe mental trauma and has not yet been able to move onâ€ť, says Lalu John Sarahâ€™s advocate. â€śWhen Kevin tried to convince the immigration officers that she was not the person they were looking for, the Crime Branch authorities insisted his mother was indeed Sarah Williams and that she underwent plastic surgery and got her facial features alteredâ€ť he added. â€śShe frequently visits her son in Chennai. This is the first time something like this has happened to her. She is completely shattered and canâ€™t even talk about the incidentâ€ť said Merlin, Sarah Thomasâ€™s sister, to The News Minute. Merlin also said that the officers threatened Sarah saying her son would also be arrested in the case. Meanwhile, Chennai police informed Kerala Police, and a team rushed to Chennai to take over the custody of Sarah, who they thought was the absconding Sarah Williams, and she was taken to Kerala on November 1. They also informed higher officials and media without verifying her identity. She was later handed over to Economic Offence Wing (EOW) of Crime Branch CID and was released on Sunday after all the legal procedures. â€śKevin is just 19-years-old and he did not know how to continue with the legal procedures. He was very depressed when he informed us about the incidentâ€ť asserted Merlin. She continued, saying, â€śThe officials at the emigration were not ready to hear what she said. For two day she stayed with criminals; the entire incident has shattered her psyche. What had happened is completely unfair. We have decided to approach the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the Union Home ministry for justiceâ€ť. Sarah Thomas was held in custody from 8:10 a.m., October 29 to 9 p.m., November 2 and finally released. The disturbing episode has left a deep a mark on her and it will be some time before she can put it past her says her family.