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Updated December 26th, 2023 at 15:33 IST

Grounded A340 plane lands in Mumbai but 27 Indians still in France. Here's why

The Romanian charter flight A-340, carrying Indian passengers made a touch-down in Mumbai after staying grounded in France for four days.

Plane grounded in France
Plane grounded in France | Image:AP
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During the early hours on Tuesday, the Romanian charter flight A-340, carrying Indian passengers made a touch-down in Mumbai after staying grounded in France for four days. However, only 276 of 303 Indian passengers returned to the country leaving many wondering why 27 Indians stayed back. The chartered flight that took off from the United Arab Emirates was heading towards Nicaragua when it was grounded by the French Authorities at the Vatry airport. The prosecutors in Paris reasoned that the aircraft was grounded over human trafficking allegations after they received an anonymous tip-off.  

While the authorities detained 2 passengers, the Vatry airport slowly turned into a shelter for the hundreds of Indians that boarded the flight. After a thorough investigation, France lifted off the seizure imposed on the grounded aircraft and it was allowed to take off on Monday. However, it did not come at full capacity.

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Why did 27 Indians stay back? 

After the aircraft landed in Mumbai it was found out that only 276 Indians came back and  27 passengers decided to stay in France. The authorities noted that these passengers sought asylum in France and hence they are staying back. It is important to note that the 1951 UN Refugee Convention (and its 1967 Protocol) protects refugees from being returned to countries where they risk being persecuted. Hence they can not be sent back immediately after they seek asylum. Meanwhile, the two people who were detained by French police were released after the cops were convinced that the passengers boarded the plane out of free will. 

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What are the asylum laws in France? 

According to France's Office française de Protection des réfugiés et apatrides, a refugee with a valid passport arriving in France can commence the process of applying to the OFPRA for refugee status within three months of arriving in the country. If a refugee has no travel documents, he must within the shortest time possible request asylum from the police of the Prefecture in which he resides. When it comes to domestic laws and regulations, France is one of the earliest countries to give constitutional protection to the right of political asylum. According to the French constitution of 1793, "the French people provide asylum for foreigners
banished from their country for the cause of freedom."   Moreover, the Preamble to the Constitution of 1946, which was incorporated into the present Constitution of 1958, mentioned that “[a]nyone persecuted because of his activities in the cause of freedom has the right of asylum within the territories of the Republic.”

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Published December 26th, 2023 at 12:00 IST

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