Many Indians stranded in GCC nations without basic amenities, Kerala MP tells SC

M.K. Raghavan seeks removal of travel ban as “airlines are willing to bring them back”

Published - April 11, 2020 05:20 pm IST - NEW DELHI

The Supreme Court of India, New Delhi

The Supreme Court of India, New Delhi

Kozhikode MP M.K. Raghavan on Saturday approached the Supreme Court highlighting the urgent need to establish a specialised team to identify Indian citizens stranded in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries who need to be evacuated immediately in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic .

COVID-19 | Interactive map of confirmed coronavirus cases in India

He said the government needs to facilitate the evacuation of job seekers on visit visa, tourists stuck in the GCC nations — Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman — due to flight cancellations, children separated from their families, pregnant women, labourers and people who have lost their jobs due to the virus and migrants who cannot afford to travel back, etc, at public cost.

Mr. Raghavan, represented by advocate A. Karthik, urged the government to lift the ban on international flights and grant of specific approval for special flights to evacuate people stuck in the GCC nations.

“The outbreak of COVID-19 has caused widespread disruptions in the lives of Indian citizens at home and abroad, especially those stranded in the Gulf countries. As a result of this, I have been approached by several individuals and organisations to ensure the safe return and well-being of such Indians who are stranded in GCC nations in the absence of basic amenities; particularly those pertaining to essential healthcare requirements as well as household needs,” the petition said.

Mr. Raghavan, in the petition, said he had contacted several airlines which have expressed willingness to ensure the safe return of the Indians.

He said the GCC nations had “accorded their approval and assured their complete support for the operation of flights to India to assist with the repatriation of stranded Indian citizens”.

“However, this proved to be futile as the Indian airspace has been shut since the outbreak of COVID-19. Therefore, Indians continue to be stranded despite several gracious offers being made by airline operators to assist their return from the GCC nations,” the MP said.

He pointed out that Indian citizens remain stranded even as Air India, through the operation of special cargo and rescue flights, has operated special flights to repatriate citizens from London, Canada, Germany, France, Ireland, etc.

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