Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Indians faces another incident of racism

Over 50 Indian passengers flying Air France had a "harrowing" time "with hardly any water and food" at Paris airport after their aircraft developed a technical problem and complained that they were victims of "racial" profiling.

The tired passengers, who arrived Mumbai late Monday night after being stranded for 28 hours at Paris, said they were confined to a "small" lounge at the airport from 10 pm on Sunday till 7 am the next morning.

"We were kept in a small room (lounge) with hardly any food or water and we were told we could not leave the airport. We spent a whole night over there in that condition," a passenger, who travelled on aboard the flight-AF 218, said.

The passengers, on their way to Mumbai from the US via Paris, said while other foreigners were taken to hotels shortly after their plane returned to the airport due to a technical problem following a four-hour flight, the Indians were taken to the lounge and just given a bottle of water and a sandwich.

Giving details of their "harrowing" time, one of the travellers, one among passengers said, "No foreigner would have been treated like the way we were treated. People were lying down on the floor over there (at a place at the airport) where immigration takes place."

Accusing Air France of "racial" profiling, a passenger said the officials there even had threatened that they would be handed over to the police if they did not stop protesting. No reason has officially been given for the delay.

Air France, in a press release, said, "Passengers with a valid transit visa were put up at nearby hotels for the night." It also regretted any inconvenience caused. But the 55 Indians said they were made to wait over ten hours for their transit visas in dismal conditions.

Sudhakara Reddy, president, Air Passengers Association of India, said, "We receive a lot of complaints from our members and Indian passengers about the discrimination they face on board some European airlines, but it's difficult to win such cases as it is hard to produce proof to substantiate the allegations."

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