The Gujarat Police on Friday questioned at least 20 passengers who returned from France on the plane which was grounded on suspicion of human trafficking. According to the details, the questioning focused on a bid to unearth a suspected illegal immigration network operating from the state, news agency PTI quoted a senior official as saying.
Officials said the passengers who returned included at least 60 from Gujarat.
A team of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) was trying to find out if the passengers had any plans to cross into the United States illegally after reaching Latin America.
Commenting on the development, SP Rajkumar, Additional Director General of Police, CID - Crime and Railways told PTI, "They were sent back from France. There was a rumour they had planned to enter the US illegally after landing in Nicaragua. In their statements, they told us they were going there as tourists. We are going into the details to find out who were the agents behind their trip."
Of the 60 who returned, some 20 have been grilled already by the agency, he added.
"We are verifying their documents to ascertain whether they used genuine or forged documents to proceed to Central America. We will also check their financial transactions because, ideally, they should not have paid more if they were going there as normal tourists and not with any other intention," said the senior IPS officer.
"Though we have started questioning, no one is divulging facts. They claim they went there as tourists. We are investigating the case from all angles," he added.
The Nicaragua-bound aircraft, an Airbus A340 carrying 276 passengers, was grounded in France for four days over suspected human trafficking. It landed in Mumbai in the early hours of December 26.
On Tuesday, Superintendent of Police, CID (Crime), Sanjay Kharat had said the CID had formed four teams to investigate the issue.
"The CID (crime) wants to take action against agents who had promised help to the victims to enter the US and other countries (illegally). We have formed four teams which will get information from the victims regarding promises made to them by these agents," he had told reporters.
The chartered flight, which was operated by Romanian charter company Legend Airlines and bound for Nicaragua, landed at Vatry near Paris on December 21 for a technical stopover en route from Dubai when the French police intervened.
French authorities launched a judicial investigation into the conditions and purpose of the trip, with a unit specialising in organised crime investigating suspected human trafficking.