Flight sent back from France: Statements of 66 from Gujarat recorded by CID

PTI, Jan 6, 2024, 4:12 PM IST

The statements of all 66 passengers from Gujarat on the Nicaragua-bound flight that was sent back to India by France have been recorded as part of the state CID’s probe into alleged human trafficking, and an FIR will be lodged soon, an official said on Saturday.

The flight operated by Romanian charter company Legend Airlines had landed at Vatry near Paris on December 21 after which French authorities intervened to probe a human trafficking angle. The flight, with 276 passengers, landed in Mumbai on December 26.

While the flight that landed in France had 303 Indian passengers, 27 sought asylum in the European nation and stayed back.

Speaking about the probe, Sanjay Kharat, Superintendent of Police, CID-Crime and Railways, who is investigating the case, said details of 15 immigration agents suspected to be involved in the case have been gathered.

”There were 66 persons from Gujarat on board. The CID Crime has recorded their statements. They are now back in their native villages in the state,” Kharat told reporters.

These 66, including some minors, are mainly from Mehsana, Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar and Anand districts.

”The CID has been probing the role of immigration agents in this case. Based on the leads and information we have gathered, we will be filing an FIR soon. We have got names and other details of some agents from Gujarat and other parts of the country. A probe is underway to find out how they sent people to Dubai and further to Nicaragua with the aim of illegal entry into the USA,” the SP said.

The documents these agents used, the money they collected and the kind of visas used are all part of the probe, he said, adding that 15 agents have been tracked and are being questioned.

The Gujarat CID had earlier said the passengers, most of whom had studied till Class VIII and XII, had paid Rs 60-80 lakh each to enter USA illegally after reaching Nicaragua via Dubai.

The Gujarat CID has also written to the Central Bureau of Investigation for help in collecting details of agents who had got these passengers Dubai visas, bank details of payments made, as well as details of how the visas for Nicaragua were obtained from Dubai.

Nicaragua has become a popular destination for those seeking asylum in the US.

As many as 96,917 Indians attempted to enter the US illegally in the financial year 2023, according to US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) data.

Flights to third countries where obtaining travel documents is easy are known as ‘dunki’ flights.

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