A day after Mexico deported more than 300 Indian nationals for illegally entering the country to sneak into the United States, the 311 persons landed in New Delhi Friday morning. PTI had reported Thursday that the Indian nationals were deported from the Toluca City International Airport on a Boeing 747 aircraft.

The unprecedented move by the Mexican government comes in the backdrop of American pressure to ensure that its sovereign territory is not used by immigrants to cross over to the US. “We landed around 5 am in the morning and the formalities took several hours before we could exit the airport around 1 pm,” Jashanpreet Singh, one of the deportees, was quoted as saying by PTI.

Sent back to India on a chartered plane that took 11 hours, the deportees were first taken to Spain from Mexico and then to India. Among those who returned home was 19-year-old Mandeep Singh, who left Patiala in June after failing to clear an examination for a job in the Indian Army.

“In April, I appeared in the trials for a job as an Army soldier, but could not get through. Subsequently, I thought of going to the US. I spent Rs 20 lakh to go there to an agent based in Punjab. On May 9, I left India and reached Ecuador. From there, I reached Colombia and later, Panama,” Singh told PTI.

“For seven days, we walked through the dense forests of Panama. We reached Mexico on September 12. We were just 800 km away from the United States when the Mexican authorities hauled and deported us,” he added.

Singh said he saw several corpses, believed to be of those who wanted to migrate just like him, while crossing the forests of Panama. “The journey was horrifying and I will never go back. The camp used to serve a very small quantity of vegetarian food and mostly beef. On September 25, we sat on a protest that lasted for two days, after which they started giving us rice with kidney beans, but the quantity was small,” he was quoted as saying.

The 311 individuals were presented to the immigration authority in the Mexican states of Oaxaca, Baja California, Veracruz, Chiapas, Sonora, Mexico City, Durango and Tabasco.

The move came in the wake US President Donald Trump threatening to impose tariffs on all Mexican imports if the country did not desist from allowing immigrants to enter America through its borders.

Mexico had agreed to boost security on the border and expand its policy of taking back migrants.

The deportees, who were accompanied by Federal Migration agents as well as members of the National Guard, were gathered at the Acayucan Migration Station in Veracruz to carry out their identification and subsequent transfer, said the Mexican government statement.

(With inputs from PTI)