The aircraft with 300 passengers of Indian origin, which was detained by French government on suspicion of human trafficking is expected to land in Chhatrapati Shivaji International airport at Sahar early on Tuesday morning.
Details of the dramatic event
The chartered aircraft had taken off from Dubai and was headed for Nicaragua when the pilot made a technical halt at Vatry airport, about 160 kms away from Charles De Gaulle airport in Paris. Apparently, on a tip off French officials detained the aircraft belonging to Romanian Legend Airlines on December 21 and started questioning the passengers, which included 11 unaccompanied children. Because of language and other difficulties, the French authorities gave up their probe and directed that the airplane be sent to Mumbai since most of the passengers were holding Indian passports.
Sources in the overseas manpower export industry in Mumbai expressed shock that such a large number of people, including children, were sought to be trafficked. They said even though there have been cases of human trafficking in the past, this is for the first time such a large number of people were allegedly sought to be trafficked.
India's laws against trafficking
India has taken a tough stand against human trafficking and introduced the Criminal Law (amendment) Act 2013 wherein Section 370 of the Indian Penal Code was substituted with Sections 370 and 370A "providing for comprehensive measures to counter the menace of human trafficking including trafficking of children for exploitation in any form." The Union ministry of home affairs has an Anti Trafficking Cell (ATC) to tacking cases of human trafficking. It also issues frequent advisories to various states.
A manpower exporter told FPJ that it was precisely because it was now difficult to do trafficking from an Indian airport, that the 300 passengers were first taken to Dubai and from there they were sought to be taken to Managua, the capital of Nicaragua. ``But for the life of me I cannot understand why anyone would want to go to a predominantly agricultural and impoverished country like Nicaragua unless the idea was to push them to the U.S. across the Mexican border," he added.
There is also suspicion as to why the pilot landed in France. Direct flights from Dubai to Managua take a little over 26 hours non-stop. It is possible that some of the passengers were to be disembarked on French soil and seek asylum and this is precisely what some of them did.
In any case, the picture will become clear once the flight lands in Mumbai with the human cargo. Senior officials of the Intelligence Bureau and the local police are expected to question the passengers to find out the mastermind behind the massive operation.