Paris: A shocking incident of human trafficking has come to light in France, where a flight from UAE to Nicaragua carrying over 300 Indian passengers was stopped and grounded at a small airport in northeastern France. The Legend Airlines A340 aircraft, which had taken off from Dubai on December 21, 2023, was scheduled to make a technical stop at Paris-Vatry Airport before heading to Nicaragua. However, the French authorities deboarded all the passengers and started an immediate investigation into their identities and travel documents.
The authorities suspect that the passengers, who are mostly of Indian origin, are victims of human trafficking and were being transported to Nicaragua for illegal purposes. The flight was intercepted by the French border police (PAF) and the Central Office for the Repression of Illegal Immigration and Employment of Foreigners (OCRIEST) after receiving a tip-off from the UAE authorities.
The flight was diverted to Chalons-Vatry Airport in Marne, which is mainly used for air cargo and military purposes. The flight-tracking website Flightradar showed the flight’s trajectory but now shows it stationary at the French airport. The passengers have been detained at the airport and are being interrogated by the police. Two passengers have been arrested and are being questioned about their role in the trafficking network. The police are also trying to find out the circumstances and motives behind the passengers’ visit to Nicaragua.
The situation at the airport is tense and serious, as the emergency services and the gendarmerie (armed police) are deployed at the scene. The airport entrance has been covered with a tarpaulin to prevent any media or public access. The passengers have been provided with food, water, and blankets, but are not allowed to leave the airport premises.
The Indian Embassy in France has expressed its concern over the incident and has sent a team to the airport to gain consular access to the passengers. The embassy said in a statement, “French authorities informed us that a flight from Dubai to Nicaragua carrying 303 people, mostly people of Indian origin, was stopped due to technical blockage at the French airport. The reason was taken into custody. The embassy team has arrived and gained consular access. We are investigating the situation, also ensuring the well-being of the passengers.”
The incident has raised questions about the security and safety of Indian citizens traveling abroad, especially to countries with weak immigration laws and human rights records. The Indian government has also taken note of the incident and has asked the French authorities to share the details of the investigation and the status of the passengers. The government has also assured that it will provide all possible assistance to the passengers and their families.