Other States

A helping hand for Kashmiri youth stranded in Dubai

The growing number of distress calls by Dubai-based youth and families originally from Kashmir has forced the community to depend on self-financed chartered flights.

A small group of businessmen and professionals there are helping with logistics for the stranded and even pooled some money to help those who are unable to pay the fare.

Two such flights, one on June 25 and another on July 3, have brought back 385 people. “Scores of companies stopped hiring and started thinning out staff in April, with many Kashmiris also losing their jobs. We had no money to pay even rent. We started shifting to friend’s places. But it was getting difficult with each passing day,” said Adil Ahmad (name changed), who worked in the sales section of a company.

Desperate to return, dozens of unemployed youth started uploading videos online in a bid to attract the attention of the J&K administration. In fact, the government-run Vande Bharat Mission did arrange two flights from Dubai to Srinagar on May 22 and June 11.

“These two flights did manage to shift back older people, pregnant women and passengers with medical emergencies. However, over 800 stranded Kashmiris continued to suffer. We wanted to attend to their desperation,” said Farooq Peerzada, an engineer working in Dubai, told The Hindu over the phone.

Six Dubai-based employees and businessmen, including Kaiser Zargar, Alim Banday, Sajad Wani, Irfan Wani , Sadia Dehlvi and Farooq Peerzada, worked on an alternative initiative, ‘Fly Kashmir Team’.

“The ‘Fly Kashmir Team’ and Miraj Islamic Art, a carpet company, started working on charter flights. It was a tedious process. We started registering the stranded passengers on J&K-government run portals to get an approval from the Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir,” Mr. Peerzada said.

The cumbersome process saw step-by-step clearance by the Aviation Ministry, the immigration departments and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dubai etc.

“The process was getting more tough with getting the airspace approval, arranging the medical staff and quarantine facilities approval in Srinagar. Finally, June 25 saw the first self-financed chartered flight touching ground in Srinagar,” said Mr. Peerzada.

He said a team of dedicated Kashmiris worked from dawn to dusk to evacuate these desperate people. “A third self-financed flight is scheduled for this week,” Mr. Peerzada.

According to an estimate, over 30,000 people from Kashmir, including employees and their families, live in Dubai.

From other places

In the past 45 days, eight international evacuation flights carried 1,262 passengers from various places to the Srinagar airport. “Around 67,000 passengers have used the air service since May 25 till July 8 to return home,” an official said.

Meanwhile, a J&K government spokesman said 1.98 lakh stranded residents returned to the Union Territory by July 8, using both the surface and air routes.

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Printable version | Aug 7, 2020 3:15:38 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/a-helping-hand-for-kashmiri-youth-stranded-in-dubai/article32037092.ece

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