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HomeDiplomacy15,000 Indians stranded abroad to be brought back on 'compelling grounds'

15,000 Indians stranded abroad to be brought back on ‘compelling grounds’

A total of 64 flights will be operated from 12 countries. Passengers would be charged Rs 50,000 each for London-Delhi flight & Rs 1 lakh from the US.

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New Delhi: About 15,000 Indian nationals stuck abroad will return home via 64 flights from 12 countries — from 7 May to 13 May — as part of the Modi government’s ‘Vande Bharat Mission’.

“Commenced preparations for Vande Bharat Mission. Planning underway for stranded Indian nationals to return home starting 7th May. Urge them to keep in regular touch with their Embassies,” tweeted External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar Tuesday. 

As part of this major repatriation exercise, Jaishankar said his ministry is also coordinating the arrival of these people with the various state governments concerned.

“Confident that our collective efforts will make this a success,” the minister added in the tweet.

The government will be operating 10 special flights to bring Indians from the UAE, 2 from Qatar, 5 from Saudi Arabia, 7 from the UK, 5 from Singapore, 7 from the US, 5 from the Philippines, 7 from Bangladesh, 2 from Bahrain, 7 from Malaysia, 5 from Kuwait and 2 from Oman.

Also read: Stay put, be patient, Modi govt tells Indians stuck abroad, asks NRIs and OCIs to help out

3 lakh registered with Indian missions 

According to official sources, over 3 lakh have registered with the Indian missions abroad to return home. Out of these, over a lakh have registered from the Gulf countries alone.

But the government will be bringing only these 15,000 Indians as of now who have “compelling grounds” to return, the sources added.

“By the time this repatriation process will be over, we hope that normal air services will resume and the rest can take advantage of that,” said a senior official involved in the process, adding that this is “not a sponsored exercise” and all those who are coming back are paying for their travel.

The “compelling grounds” based on which the government has arrived at this 15,000 figure include those who have been sacked from their jobs, migrant workers, non-permanent residents, those facing deportation, people who have medical emergencies, elderly people, those who were on short-term visas, those people who have had deaths in their families and students whose hostels are closed.

The Ministry of External Affairs, in coordination with the Ministries of Home, Health and Civil Aviation, have created a “coordination committee” at the level of joint secretaries and additional secretaries to facilitate the smooth movement of these Indian nationals to their respective states.

Protocols will be explained to the states 

Sources said Foreign Secretary Harsh V. Shringla will be holding a meeting with the chief secretaries of the states concerned Wednesday to make them understand the protocols and how the states should be ready with all their existing mechanisms to absorb these people.

Some of the states where the Indians will be sent back are Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Delhi-NCR, Telangana, Gujarat, Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh.  

According to the official mentioned above, many Indian nationals who are stuck abroad didn’t want to come back after they learnt that they will have to undergo the standard operating procedures such as the mandatory 14-day quarantine and other norms laid out by the Ministry of Home Affairs

Rs 50,000 for London-Delhi flight, Rs 1 lakh for US flight

The special flights to bring back the Indians would be operated by Air India and its subsidiary, Air India Express. 

Passengers would be charged Rs 50,000 each for London Delhi/Mumbai/Ahmedabad/Bangalore flight and Rs 12,000 for Dhaka-Delhi flight, while those being repatriated from the US will be charged Rs 1 lakh.

Passengers from Dubai will have to shell out Rs 13,000, the government said Tuesday.

For those who are stranded in the Maldives, the government will be sending naval ships to bring them home. These people will also include those who have been living and working there, but now want to come back as the virus is spreading in the island nation.

Also read: Govt issues standard operating protocol for return of Indians stranded abroad


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