303 Indian passengers were traveling from the United Arab Kingdom (UAE) to Nicaragua in Central America in an Airbus A340 flight of Romanian charter company Legend Airlines. The aircraft was brought down for a technical stop at Vatry airport in eastern France, 150 km from Paris.
Acting on an anonymous tip that some of the passengers on board were ‘victims of human trafficking’, authorities grounded the plane. Two men have been taken into custody and are being questioned by a unit specializing in the investigation of organized crime.
Legend Airlines’ lawyer, Liliana Bakayoko, said her company had done nothing wrong, had not committed a crime. French authorities will cooperate with the investigation. But the prosecutor said that legal action will be taken if charges are filed.
India has provided consular contact facility to the passengers on board. Officials who have reached the spot and are investigating the incident have paid attention to the well-being of the passengers.
“The French authorities have informed us that a flight from Dubai to Nicaragua carrying 303 people, mostly of Indian origin, was intercepted at a France airport during a technical delay. An embassy team has reached the spot and provided them with consular privileges,” the Indian embassy in France said.
US or Canada entry target
Officials suspect that the passengers may be traveling to Central America with the intention of entering the US or Canada illegally.
After the plane landed in France, the passengers were kept inside. Later they were allowed to come out. Separate bed arrangements were made in the airport building. The Vatri Airport reception hall has been converted into a lounge with separate beds to provide the best possible comfort to the passengers. 303 Indians have spent the night at the airport. Officials are yet to inform when they will be allowed to travel again.