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Last Updated: Friday, 25 August 2006, 16:08 GMT 17:08 UK
India protests over plane arrests
Northwest Airlines aircraft at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport after turning back mid-flight
The plane flew back to Amsterdam under military escort
India has lodged a formal protest with the Dutch government after 12 of its citizens on board a US Northwest Airlines flight were arrested.

The plane, bound for Mumbai (Bombay), returned to Amsterdam escorted by fighter jets, after the crew said some passengers were behaving suspiciously.

The Indian government summoned the Dutch ambassador to convey its unhappiness over the incident.

The Dutch government said it was simply following normal procedure.

We have protested and expressed shock about the incident. There was treatment that was objectionable
Navtej Sarna
Indian Foreign Ministry

An Indian government source quoted by AFP news agency said the anger stemmed partly from the handcuffing of the 12 during the incident.

US air marshals on the plane were involved in the initial detention of the men.

Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna said India had "called for a detailed report on the incident from Holland".

"We've told the Dutch ambassador that we take this matter very seriously and that it was not in conformity with the friendly relations between the Netherlands and India," he said.

"We have protested and expressed shock about the incident. There was treatment that was objectionable."

Mr Sarna said the Dutch government had told India there was no intention of racial discrimination.

India's junior foreign minister, Anand Sharma, told journalists that the ambassador, Eric Niehe, had expressed regret over the incident.

'No apology'

However, the Dutch government said no apology was owed, as normal security procedures had been followed.

"The ambassador explained to the Indian authorities what happened but there was no question of an apology," a Dutch foreign ministry spokesman told AFP.

Dutch prosecutors said the 12 passengers had refused to follow instructions given by the crew, and were moving round the plane and making telephone calls when they should not have been, Dutch reports said.

The men are now on their way back to India after being released without charge.

Mr Sarna said: "We will get all the details from them when they arrive back in India tonight."

Anger at 'bias'

Ten of the detainees are from Mumbai, India's commercial centre, and were returning home from a business trip.

Relatives of the some of the 12, together with Muslim leaders, said the incident reflected a growing international problem in which Muslims were the subject of bias.

"This calculated, systematic demonisation of Muslims is going to get worse in the coming days," said Shabnam Hashmi, a spokeswoman for the New Delhi-based human rights movement Act Now for Harmony and Democracy.

Footage of aircraft at Amsterdam's airport

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