It is 2021, but the aftershock of 2020 is still ravaging the world. India, in particular, is currently fighting a grim war, where pandemic related deaths have surpassed 219,000.
With a population of 1.3 BILLION, the country is battling a deadly second wave of COVID-19 & the sudden nationwide surge has exhausted the country’s medical resources such as oxygen concentrators, hospital beds and vaccines.
India initially supplied vaccines to a number of countries, however, in recent months the country hasn’t been able to cope with the heavy demand and became reliant on international efforts to aid with the crisis.
To prevent the spread of new and unknown COVID-19 variants, a number of nations imposed a temporary travel ban from India, including the UAE. Leaving many UAE-based Indian expats in a helpless situation.
Dubai is home to more than 2.62 million Indians & many of them are currently in India hoping to return to their second home as soon as possible
Thousands of Indian expats are stuck in India as a result of the travel ban and have taken to social media to voice their concern of the impact this would have on their lives back home. Jobs, studies, rent, bills… multiple factors have left Indian UAE residents panicked about the extended travel restrictions.
While some are resorting to private planes, others who aren’t as lucky are hoping for rescue flights back to the UAE or a speedy lift on the travel ban which has been imposed until May 14, 2021 (for the time being).
“The flight suspension notice was put out 2 days prior to suspension, hiked flight tickets started to sell out & getting the PCR test result within 48 hours was another challenge…” – Samayak Malhotra
“My name is Samayak Malhotra and I’m a Dubai resident. I flew down to Jammu on April 16 to visit my grandparents. Due to the travel ban, I’m currently stuck in Jammu, India.
My return flight was on April 29 which got cancelled. The flight suspension notice was put out 2 days prior to suspension, hiked flight tickets started to sell out & getting the PCR test result within 48 hours was another challenge. All the flights were sold out before 25th April and there was no way out.
This lockdown is not only impacting me but a lot of other Indians who are stuck here in India after the suspension of flights from India to the UAE. My work and studies are being affected by this lockdown. I urgently need to get back to Dubai in order to resume work and carry on with my studies. There is a high possibility that I get fired from my current job if I don’t resume work before May 20.
I request the relevant authorities to arrange rescue flights for UAE residents at the earliest as it could help all those stranded here in India.”
Chirag & Kritika are two of the many Indians who cannot return to Dubai. How their intimate wedding ceremony trip to Mumabi turned into chaos:
“Hi, My name is Chirag Lakhiani.
I had come to India to get married, in what was planned to be an intimate occasion, we had to cut down on the number of people due to covid restrictions and ended up getting married with our close relatives by our side.
We had scheduled our departure for the last week of April however the flight ban held my entire family from travelling. I am an entrepreneur and run a business in the UAE for which my presence is extremely important. My wife works as an operation manager and overlooks every day to day activity of her company.
Basically, for us all to somehow manage to take some leaves and come to India TOGETHER itself was a big challenge and now since we are stranded, it’s all the more difficult for us to manage our work from here. We are all 100% vaccinated.”
Ranjeet Pundlik and his wife were taken aback by the sudden travel ban announcement and are relentlessly trying to get back to their second home
“I’m Ranjeet and I flew to Bangalore and then to Mumbai with my wife Riyanka for personal reasons. When we landed in Bangalore on April 16 – everything felt normal and there was no lockdown. So we continued to Mumbai and suddenly the flight ban came into effect. Our situation was such that we couldn’t abruptly fly back and hence got stuck. We are figuring out ways to go back ASAP to resume our jobs and to get vaccinated which is due soon.”
Dubai has time and time again affirmed its solidarity with India during the latter’s crucial fight against the raging pandemic
The Burj Khalifa lit up with Indian tricolour and traffic billboards across the city displayed the message #StayStrongIndia in support of India’s fight against COVID-19.
It’s no doubt that 2020 to date continues to be a tough time for the world but human solidarity is what keeps everyone hopeful to keep fighting.