Gujarat police to question passengers of plane from France to nail agents

The lawyer for the airline said UAE and Nicaragua refused to accept the passengers

PTI12_26_2023_000001B Passengers of a charter plane, which was grounded in France for four days over suspected human trafficking, arrive in Mumbai | PTI

A day after the charter flight from France landed in Mumbai with 276 passengers onboard, the Gujarat Police began an investigation into the suspected illegal immigration network. Teams have been formed to identify "agents" involved in the illegal immigration work.

Many passengers of the plane hail from Gujarati districts of Banaskantha, Patan, Mehsana and Anand.

Superintendent of Police, CID (Crime), Sanjay Kharat told PTI that action will be taken against agents who promised help to victims to enter the US and other countries illegally. "We have formed four teams which will get information from the victims regarding promises made to them by these agents," Superintendent of Police, CID (Crime), Sanjay Kharat said.

"The police will coordinate with the passengers when they reach Gujarat from Mumbai to find out the agents and agencies involved and whether documents provided to them to migrate to the US and other countries were forged," he added.

The probe will also focus on the number of people who flew abroad this way. "The CID has so far received raw information regarding the agents involved in the incident and will be able to find out more only after questioning the passengers concerned," he said.

Kharat said different agents involved in illegal immigration work in tandem. "The agents working at the village and district levels are small players controlled by a kingpin who works at the international level," he added.

"Different agencies use different modus operandi based on the requirements of persons seeking to migrate like whether they require forged documents etc, and rates are fixed accordingly," the SP said, adding the victims will be questioned and police will reach the kingpin.

Meanwhile, the lawyer of the chartered flight, operated by Romanian charter company Legend Airlines, said both UAE, from where the flight originated, and Nicaragua, the destination, refused to accept the passengers. 

"India was the country that was ready to just accept the passengers very quickly. The United Arab Emirates refused. Nicaragua, as far as we know, also (refused). So, as the passengers were Indian nationals, the Indian Embassy worked hard with the French authorities to speed up the process of obtaining all the permits necessary to fly to India. Some of them refused to go... In the end, 276 passengers boarded and left for India and the others requested asylum,"  Liliana Bakayoko told NDTV.

She added that all passengers claimed they had return tickets and hotel reservations. However, some of the passengers did not want to go to India.

(With PTI inputs)


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