The charter plane, grounded in France for four days over suspected human trafficking, landed in Mumbai in the wee hours of Tuesday. The aircraft, an Airbus A340, had landed at France’s Vatry airport on Thursday for a technical stopover en route from Dubai when French police intervened.
At the time of landing in France, the flight carried 303 Indian passengers, with 11 unaccompanied minors.
According to French authorities, the plane had 276 passengers on board when it took off for Mumbai, as 27 persons, including two minors, had expressed the wish to apply for asylum and were still on French soil.
Two others were held and produced before a judge and were released and placed on assisted witness status, a French news channel reported.
WHY WAS THE PLANE GROUNDED IN FRANCE?
The Nicaragua-bound flight that had taken off from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates was grounded at Vatry airport, 150 kilometres east of Paris, on Thursday over suspected “human trafficking”.
Upon the flight’s landing, 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.
On Sunday, four French judges questioned the detained passengers.
The hearings were conducted as part of the investigation opened by the Paris prosecutor’s office on the suspicion of human trafficking.
According to the French media, some of the passengers spoke Hindi and the others Tamil.
On Sunday, after authorising the plane to leave, the French judges chose to cancel the hearings of the passengers due to irregularities in the procedure.
Nicaragua has become a popular destination for those seeking asylum in the US. Flights to Nicaragua or third countries where obtaining travel documents is easy have come to be known as ‘dunki’ flights.
The aircraft, an Airbus A340, landed in Mumbai shortly after 4 am, an official told news agency PTI. It had taken off from Vatry airport near Paris around 2.30 pm local time.
Meanwhile, 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.