Thursday, April 25, 2024
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Plane grounded in France over human trafficking lands in Mumbai

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Mumbai, Dec 26: A plane carrying 276 passengers, mostly Indians, grounded in France for four days over suspected human trafficking, landed in Mumbai in the wee hours on Tuesday, an official said.
The aircraft, an Airbus A340, landed in Mumbai shortly after 4 am, the official said. It had taken off from Vatry airport near Paris around 2.30 pm local time.
There were also 15 crew members on board when the plane landed in Mumbai, the official said.
Immigration authorities enquired from some of the 276 passengers who arrived, an official said, adding no passenger was detained and all 276 passengers were allowed to leave the airport by 11.30 am.
Despite repeated attempts by waiting media personnel at Mumbai airport, none of the passengers spoke about their journey or the events that unfolded over the last four days.
Many on board who came out of the airport hours after the plane landed, were seen rushing out, without facing the waiting media.
Queries to them regarding reported interrogation of some of the passengers by officials at the airport went unanswered.
According to French authorities, the charter plane had 276 passengers on board when it took off for Mumbai, as 25 persons, including two minors, had expressed the wish to apply for asylum and were still on French soil. Two others were held, produced before a judge and placed on assisted witness status, a French news channel said.
When the flight landed in Vatry airport, there were 11 unaccompanied minors among the 303 Indian passengers on board, a local official had said.
Makeshift beds were arranged for the stranded passengers, who were given access to toilets and showers and provided meals and hot drinks in the hall of Vatry airport, the official had said.
The flight, which was operated by Romanian charter company Legend Airlines and bound for Nicaragua, had landed at Vatry on Thursday for a technical stopover en route from Dubai when French police intervened.
French authorities launched a judicial investigation into the conditions and purpose of the trip, with a unit specialising in organised crime investigating suspected human trafficking.
Nicaragua has become a popular destination for those seeking asylum in the US. As many as 96,917 Indians attempted to enter the US illegally in the financial year 2023, signalling a 51.61 per cent jump from the previous year, according to data made available by the US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP).
At least 41,770 of those Indians attempted to enter the US via the Mexican land border, CBP data shows. Flights to Nicaragua or third countries where obtaining travel documents is easy have come to be known as ‘dunki’ flights. (PTI)

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