India went into a nation-wide lockdown on March 21, causing several Indian expatriates with jobs in the UAE to get stuck in India.
Though UAE expatriates stranded in India have welcomed the Indian government’s decision to begin operations of non-scheduled commercial flights, many have appealed for ‘better clarity in the procedures that need to be followed ahead of their travel’.
However, a spokesperson for the Indian diplomatic mission in Dubai told Khaleej Times on Monday that they are awaiting more clarity on these procedures.
On Sunday, the Government of India announced that UAE residents who are currently stranded in India can soon return on the special non-scheduled commercial flights that are allowed by the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA).
The SOP, released by the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), provided a clear list of protocols that needs to be followed by travellers, including gaining a clearance letter from the MoCA. Furthermore, the MHA has said only persons with a one-year valid visa will be allowed to travel to the destination countries.
Expats stranded in India hope to return soon
Owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, India went into a nation-wide lockdown on March 21, causing several Indian expatriates with jobs in the UAE to get stuck in India.
Rajini Menon, a UAE resident and school teacher, said her daughter has been stuck in India for nearly three months. “She is a university student and is one of the few students left behind in her hostel campus. She has received approval from the UAE authorities to travel. However, we don’t know what to do next,” said Menon.
Udayasena Anumandla, another Indian expat, said: “My family, consisting of my wife and daughter have been in India since March. She wants to come back as she has a job here. We have already applied through the ICA smart services. Unfortunately it got rejected and now we have reapplied. We request the government to provide clear details for easy understanding.”
Missions awaiting clarifications from India
Neeraj Agarwal, Consul for Press, Information and Culture at the Consulate-General of India in Dubai, said: “We need to hear from the Government of UAE about their plans for allowing valid residence visa holders back into the country.”
He explained: “The non-scheduled flights specified in the MHA SOP refer to specifically chartered flights like the ones in which Indian medics were flown to the UAE, like the ones arranged by Aster DM or VPS Healthcare.”
The other category of flights, according to the Consul, are the ones organised for strategic cooperation purposes, flights arranged in cooperation with foreign governments for the evacuation of their citizens to their countries.
“Normal civil aviation for stranded Indians wishing to go abroad has not yet been approved. It depends on the host country as well. It will also take some time for complete resumption. Several clarifications in this matter are yet to be received,” said Agarwal.
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