Air India said it is preparing to operate special flights to London between April 4 and April 7 to fly out foreigners stranded in India. But it said nothing about bringing back Indians stuck in the UK, most of them students evicted from their campuses.
More than 400 Indian students, including nearly 100 students from Kerala, are stranded in different parts of the UK. They who have requested the Union government to arrange a special flight to bring them home.
“I got the news unofficially yesterday, but their plan is to drop British people in the UK and fly back without any passengers. I contacted the Indian High commission regarding the special flights. But they said there is no news and asked not to believe any rumours,” said one of the stranded students, Akhil Dharmaraj, a marine engineer hailing from Kerala.
“However, they have asked us to wait for updates,” added Akhil, who went to South Shields UK to sit for a competency exam along with a group of friends.
The students, many of whom are in the UK for short-term courses or examinations, are worried over the escalating number of Covid19 cases in the country and the possible scarcity of essential goods.
“Currently, we are able to find food though there is a limit on the number of items that can be purchased. We are not able to get sanitisers, gloves and face masks here. We have to wait in long queues without any protection for entry into supermarkets. Almost all of us are living in shared apartments with a common kitchen and bathroom facilities and it would be impossible to keep someone isolated if they develop coronavirus symptoms. Many of us support members of our families back home. As the condition has turned worse in India too, we are stuck here indefinitely and worried,” he added.
There are many students from other states like Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Telengana who are unable to return home due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Air India has already operated special flights to Israel and Germany to fly out foreigners stranded in India. Though regular flight services have been suspended, cargo flights and flights specially permitted by the aviation regulator DGCA are operating.
Many foreigners are stranded in India following the suspension of all domestic and international passenger flights due to the 21-day national lockdown announced in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
Last week, German nationals stranded in Kerala were evacuated in a special flight from the Thiruvananthapuram International Airport.
Recently, the bodies of Kerala expatriates who passed away in UAE were repatriated to Kerala in cargo flights operating between Kerala and UAE....