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'Mumbai plane passengers were treated inhumanely'

August 25, 2006 16:49 IST
The 12 Indian men arrested and later released at Amsterdam following a security alert on a Northwest Airlines flight were treated "inhumanely", said a Dutch passenger who was on the plane.

"The way they got arrested inside the plane with everybody seeing how they got treated, I thought it was inhumane... they were treated like dogs," said Antunius Slotboom, who was on Northwest flight No 42 with 149 passengers that was escorted back to Schipol airport by F-16 fighters on Wednesday.

The behaviour of the men, all residents of Mumbai, shortly after the plane took off from Amsterdam had triggered the security alert. They did not put on their seat belts, changed seats and exchanged their mobile phones, arousing the suspicion of the crew and air marshals.

Slotboom, who arrived in Mumbai on Thursday night along with 17 other Mumbai-bound passengers of the Northwest flight, however, said their arrest seemed part of an "offensive against Arabic people". "They did not hit them (arrested men) but they pushed them.

They let them feel that they have no power, that the people who arrested them had all the power," he said.

Slotboom said he too was kicked off the plane after he remarked that the arrests were akin to what the Germans had done under Hitler during World War II.

"They came to me and said, "You come with us and you are not allowed to fly any more," he said. Nitin Dalal, another passenger, said the arrested men "were not listening to the crew" and did things that made the crew "suspicious."

Another passenger Bharat Menon told PTI, "The cabin crew was repeatedly asking the passengers to fasten their seat belts when one of the passengers received a call on his cell phone.

The person, who was travelling in Economy Class along with his friends then spoke bit excitedly over the phone.... The behaviour of these men was suspicious and they were handing the cell phones to each other." The men were released after Dutch authorities found no evidence of their involvement in terrorist activities.

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