There is no repatriation flight to Mexico in Vande Bharat, more than 220 Indians ask, What about us?
NEW DELHI: When Vasudevan * went on a business trip, he promised his wife that it would only be a short season. That was over 50 days ago. When India closed on March 25, suspending all commercials, Vasudevan was stranded at a hotel in San Luis Potosí. Back home in Chennai, his wife has been caring for her disabled father and her 18-month-old baby. I can't do anything from here except wait. Every day my family asks when I will return, what do I tell them? said the 31-year-old.
Vasudevan is among the more than 220 in Mexico who have asked the government of India for help since the North American country is not on the list of nations where India is evacuating its Mission citizens until 3 May. June. In a WhatsApp group TOI part of was created, more than 200 Indians in Mexico have been sharing their concerns about not being clear about when they could return home. Many of them had short-term business visas for Mexico when travel restrictions came into effect. Several of them, like Saket Kumar, 26, from Bihar, who was on a business trip to Mexico in March, have elderly and sick parents at home.
Many of those who had traveled for work told TOI that they did not know anyone in the country and were constantly stressed that there would be no one to take care of them if they got the infection. Some like Himel Choudhary, whose short-term visa is about to expire, were concerned that even if commercial flights were resumed, they would not be able to leave due to expired visas.
Choudhury was sent to Mexico for a three-month work period in January by the multinational corporation with which she works. She is concerned about her parents, both over the age of 65, who live alone in Tripura and need medical attention for chronic illnesses. I am desperate to be with my parents right now, it is difficult for them to manage alone due to the confinement in India, said the 27-year-old, currently in Monterrey, where 17 other Indians are also seeking evacuation. Among them is a 30-year-old school teacher who quit her job a few months before India announced the closure. She will join as a teacher at a Mumbai school, but now she is not sure if she could do it if she is not evacuated on time.
“My new employer informed me that the school will open in June. I hope they will allow me to take online classes for some time. I will have a conversation once I have some clarity on whether we are being evacuated, ”he said.
In Guadalajara, Junaid Alam, an IT company employee, has been trapped in a hotel since March while his two young children and his wife are in Kolkata, awaiting his return. “He had come for a visit from a client, but after the outbreak, the contract was canceled. I was unable to return to India before closing. My company is paying my hotel bills, but no new projects have been assigned to me since I've been stranded here. IT employees at the bank for more than 35 days may be dismissed in accordance with our company policy. So I am concerned about my work.
Susikar Rao, also in Guadalajara since January to work, said that the embassy in Mexico had already written down their details and told them that they had been sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “But we were disappointed not to see Mexico on the second flight list. We just need a flight to Mexico to evacuate all of us. ”
The second list of flights under the Vande Bharat Mission launched on May 16 includes 149 flights from 31 countries, including the Gulf nations, Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Southeast Asia.
Officials at the Indian embassy in Mexico told TOI that they couldn't put an exact number on how many Indians were stranded in Mexico, as they were still gathering information on those who wanted to return. We have sent the information we have collected so far to the Government of India, but have not heard from them about a repatriation flight.
When asked if there were plans to evacuate those in Mexico, an Air India spokesperson told TOI: “We are focusing only on the government-assigned repatriation flights. The government is doing the planning, so we cannot comment on this.
Official sources said the repatriation will be gradual over the next month or two and that the government will seek to add more countries in June.
(* Name changed to protect identity)