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Time to bring Indians back home

Time to bring Indians back home

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Manikaran Singh Arneja has hardly had any good sleep for the past eight days. Never in his wildest dreams had he thought his life would be in such dire straits.

An automobile businessman from Delhi, Arneja, 40, had gone to the United States in the first week of March to visit his sister. He was due to return on March 30. But, with India banning all international flights on March 23, the Sikh gentleman has been stuck in California till now.

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That, of course, is acceptable. There are several such cases the world over. Arneja too had to live with it.

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Until that phone call—which everyone dreads in these times of Covid-19—came from home last week. "Papa is no more," his wife told him from their Kirti Nagar home.
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Gutted, helpless, Arneja was speechless. He was the only son of his parents and, as the last rites were being performed at the Punjabi Bagh crematorium with just a few from the family in attendance, a brief video call was the only way with which he could see his father one final time.

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"I still can't believe it has happened to me," Arneja tells IN. "I so desperately want to be home with my family. My mother is still in shock and my wife is handling everything, including my two sons, all alone."

While the plight of laborers stuck in away states has been reported widely, and rightly so, the stories of thousands of Indians stuck in foreign lands—even if not as tragic as that of the Arnejas—will move many.
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Everyone wants to return home. At the very first opportunity given to them.

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Imagine, as many as 9,000 Indians in the UAE registered themselves to fly home in 12 hours Wednesday.

"Around 9,000 Indians in the UAE wishing to fly home during the Covid-19 pandemic registered their details within 12 hours after the launch of the e-registration by the Indian missions here. Since the huge volume of applicants caused the website to crash several times, applicants are now being asked to keep trying until they can register their details in the next few days," reported Sajila Saseendran in the Gulf News.
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"Indian mission asks applicants to keep trying as registration website crashes in between," reported the leading newspaper from the Middle-East.

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Earlier this month, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had informed the Supreme Court that there are 13 million Indians—including NRIs and students—abroad and the government is seeking to minimize the severe risk posed by arrivals from an increasing number of countries affected by Covid-19.
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While responding to a plea filed in the Supreme Court seeking direction to the Centre to evacuate a group of nearly Indian students stranded in the UK, the government had urged the Indian nationals to stay put where they are to contain the further spread of the virus within India and allow the health machinery to focus on domestic containment effectively.

The repatriation task won't be easy but the work has finally started this week.

It is believed that the Indian government is keen to get home first its citizens stuck in the Gulf, followed by the UK, US, Europe, Australia, etc.

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On Wednesday, the Indian Embassy in the US also started the process to register online the Indians who have been stranded in the country since the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak.
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"AK Vijaykrishnan, Consul (Community Affairs) has been personally reaching out people stranded due to #COVID19 lockdown, meeting &amp; supplying home food. Here with a group of Indian tourists from Delhi in Connecticut &amp; a young man in a New York hotel whose parents reached out to us," tweeted Sandeep Chakravorty, an Indian in New York
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<p dir="ltr" lang="en">AK Vijaykrishnan, Consul (Community Affairs) has been personally reaching out people stranded due to <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/COVID19?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#COVID19</a> lockdown, meeting &amp; supplying home food. Here with a group of Indian tourists from Delhi in Connecticut &amp; a young man in a New York hotel whose parents reached out to us. <a href="https://t.co/cI7bw4lj56">pic.twitter.com/cI7bw4lj56</a></p>
— Sandeep Chakravorty (@CHAKRAVIEW1971) <a href="https://twitter.com/CHAKRAVIEW1971/status/1255220943632437248?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">April 28, 2020</a></blockquote>
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The registration exercise will help Indian mission to ascertain the number of Indians – priority to be given as per their circumstances – ready to fly home. Following which the dates of repatriation flights are expected to be announced by the government.

The High Commission of India in London also issued an advisory Thursday afternoon, asking stranded Indians in the United Kingdom to fill their details.

"All Indian citizens stranded in the UK may please register themselves with the High Commission through google sheet available at <a href="https://t.co/shBOoJsDvz" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?q=https://t.co/shBOoJsDvz&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1588344948701000&amp;usg=AFQjCNFxRXfiu2IFCF0pXqaFFNbrCoOy5Q">https://t.co/shBOoJsDvz</a> Or <wbr />through website<a href="https://t.co/jmRzhtor3x" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?q=https://t.co/jmRzhtor3x&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1588344948701000&amp;usg=AFQjCNF9PWkkUXj8Z4oNRsNhVyYQS1qUQg">https://t.co/jmRzhtor3x</a><wbr /> You may ignore if already registered. @RuchiGhanashyam @CGI_Bghm @IndiaInScotland," tweeted the mission.
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<p dir="ltr" lang="en">All Indian citizens stranded in the UK may please register themselves with the High Commission through google sheet available at <a href="https://t.co/shBOoJsDvz">https://t.co/shBOoJsDvz</a>
Or through website <a href="https://t.co/jmRzhtor3x">https://t.co/jmRzhtor3x</a> You may ignore if already registered. <a href="https://twitter.com/RuchiGhanashyam?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@RuchiGhanashyam</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/CGI_Bghm?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@CGI_Bghm</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/IndiaInScotland?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@IndiaInScotland</a></p>
— India in the UK (@HCI_London) <a href="https://twitter.com/HCI_London/status/1255806457926365184?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">April 30, 2020</a></blockquote>
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A massive exercise has already begun in some Indian states like Punjab too where the Deputy Commissioners have been asked to find out families of those students who are stuck abroad. The parents are being asked to fill a form mentioning all the details about their children, including their preference to return at Amritsar or Mohali international airport.

Hopefully, like Germany, India too would bring back home the likes of Arneja.

The sooner the better for their families.

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