Human trafficking suspected

A woman identified as D.P. Ben and her five-year-old son travelling in the Air India (AI) flight 967 from Chennai to Sharjah on Wednesday night were off-loaded at the Thiruvananthapuram international airport here as they did not reportedly have valid travel documents to fly to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The commercial staff of the airline, who boarded the A-320 aircraft as part of a transit passenger check, caught them, airport sources told The Hindu.

It was found that the two had shifted from the seats allotted and had tickets and boarding passes only to fly from Chennai to Thiruvananthapuram.

The incident came to light when two others, who had booked tickets from Chennai to Sharjah in the same flight, alighted at the airport here. D.P. Ben and her son occupied the seats of that duo. At the time, passengers from Thiruvananthapuram were boarding the flight.

The duo and another person, a carrier, were off-loaded and security agencies were alerted.

They were handed over to Immigration officials who were questioning them. The flight left for Sharjah at 8.09 p.m., after a delay of 29 minutes.

Intelligence Bureau (IB) personnel at the Immigration wing said the ‘Indian’ passports with the duo were fake. But the ‘carrier’ had a genuine passport and valid travel documents.

Immigration officials were looking into whether they were trying to migrate illegally to another country.

Sources said security agencies were investigating whether the woman was tricked by mafia networks profiting from human trafficking. The agencies were verifying the woman’s background.