The Vande Bharat mission began on May 7 in a bid to bring lakhs of stranded Indians back home. So far, 30,000 Indians were brought back in 158 flights. Since then the ongoing mission continues to airlift people stuck across the world back to India. Curly Tales got a chance to speak to a few Indians who were stranded away from home amid the COVID-19 pandemic. However, thanks to this mission, returned back to India. All of them had to buy their own tickets at an inflated price. They shared their journey with us. So here’s their story.
Klinton Rebello – Gym Owner & Fitness Trainer
A gym owner and fitness trainer, Klinton was stranded in Kuala Lampur in Malaysia for 60 days. He paid around ₹20,000 for a new flight ticket. When Klinton came to know that there were flights from Kuala Lumpur to Mumbai, he had no intimation from the embassy. So he went to the embassy and came to know that he can rush to the airport to go back home.
Once Klinton arrived at Mumbai airport, he crossed security and went through a thermal screening. He then received a list of hotels where he had to go through a 14-day quarantine. He was told to choose one of these hotels to reside during his quarantine period.
Klinton chose a hotel in Juhu, which was the closest to the people he knew. He paid approximately ₹3000 a day. The hotel was basic. It had no means to wash clothes, no detergent provided and no laundry either. Klinton felt quite disappointed. Mumbai-based Klinton urges the government that even if there are no coronavirus tests done, stamping must be focussed on. According to him, stamping is basic and doesn’t cost any money.
Vijay Paramasivam- Filmmaker
A filmmaker by profession, Vijay Paramasivam was stranded in Malaysia since 17th March 2020. Vijay paid 864 Ringgit ( ₹15,018 approx) as the ticket price for the first flight from Kuala Lumpur to Trichy. He had to pay the amount in Ringgit, with only cash in hand at the counter.
Vijay stayed in a hotel from March 17 to March 31, hoping the lockdown would get lifted. But since it didn’t happen, he found about the High Commission of India, Kuala Lumpur website. With the help of the website, he got a hotel to stay. Vijay’s flight back to India was at full capacity. There were around 185 people on the flight. He had to wear his face mask throughout, in the airport and inside the plane.
When he finally flew from Malaysia to India, his flight ran at full capacity. All passengers wore masks both in the airport and aircraft. The crew members were thoroughly sanitized. When he reached Tamil Nadu, along with all passengers, Vijay walked on the path where 6 doctors screened them. Passengers were stamped and told to move to baggage claim. Their bags were then sanitized, once they took their luggage.
Vijay and other passengers received forms where they compulsorily chose for either free government quarantine or paid quarantine. Vijay chose free quarantine. Those who chose the paid quarantine were given a list of hotels. The free government quarantine ensured free food, stay and tests for 7 days.
The Tamil Nadu based filmmaker was escorted to a government bus, where he was taken to a government college for quarantine, free of cost. Each person was allocated a room for all 7 days where they got free food. The minute the passengers reached the quarantine center, tests were conducted and results came out in 48 hours.
All passengers tested negative for coronavirus. After 7 days, the tests were conducted again. And on the 8th day with the help of a tehsildar they were escorted home. Vijay Paramasivam extends heartfelt gratitude to the Tamil Nadu State Government for taking good care of him and all the other passengers amid the pandemic. Did You Know These 10 Amazing Facts About India?
Ginni Singh- Art Professional
An art professional from New Delhi, Ginni Singh was stranded in Malaysia for 2 months due to the coronavirus lockdown. She was supposed to pay ₹20,000 for her flight ticket back home. But she later had to pay an inflated price of ₹40,000 for the ticket.
On the day of her journey on May 14, she waited for 8 long hours, yet she was told that her ticket wasn’t confirmed. The officials at the High Commission asked her to purchase another ticket and check-in. Since there wasn’t much time left, they asked her to later get a refund from Air India.
Ginni contacted the High Commission of India in Kuala Lumpur. Through their website, she emailed them, called them and tweeted them. They gave her a link where she got herself registered as an Indian Citizen, stranded in Malaysia. Did you know Malaysian Mall Reopens After 50 Days To Find Mold Growing On Leather Goods?
Ginni got stamped at immigration. The immigration desk followed the social distancing norms. Ginni and the other passengers were taken to another room. On reaching New Delhi, They were tested again for coronavirus and assigned to a quarantine centre as per their preference. Their passports were taken and they were told that they will get them back post the quarantine period. Passengers were taken to their hotels for quarantine by bus.
Currently, Ginni is in paid quarantine. She pays ₹5400 per night including accommodation and meals. Fortunately, she purchased few things from Malaysia, but if hse needs anything else she is allowed to order online. The hotel staff will deliver these things to her room.
Ginni is thankful to the Indian Government for bringing her back. However, she does feel that there is room for improvement in the way things are handled. One instance was she was travelling with her husband and child. On May 13, her family received the list from the High Commission, where her name was on the list. But their names weren’t. As a result, they had to wait for 8 hours. Here are 16 Countries That Overcame COVID-19 With Zero Deaths & Are Now Coronavirus Free
Klinton Rebello, Vijay Paramasivam and Ginni Singh had to purchase their own ticket to come back to India at an inflated price. They got in touch with the Indian Embassy abroad. They flew back in flights running at full capacity. On arrival in New Delhi and Tamil Nadu, passengers underwent thermal screening, testing and stamping.
However, in Mumbai airport, only thermal screening was practised. Not everyone underwent testing and stamping. While the Tamil Nadu passengers had an option of free government quarantine, passengers arriving in Mumbai and Delhi did not. However, the government is trying its best to accommodate the needs of the Indians stranded abroad. And we do hope that our fellow Indians return home safely.