United News of India
Srinagar, May 8: The first flight carrying 168 medical students, who were stranded in Bangladesh amid countrywide lockdown to curtail the spread of Coronavirus, arrived at Srinagar International Airport on Friday afternoon.
However, no such arrangements have been made for Kashmiris stranded in UAE as Srinagar International Airport doesn’t feature in the list of airports provided by the centre from where people can choose their destination in India.
Official sources said that an Air India special evacuation flight, which took off from Dhaka’s Shahjalal International Airport at around 1100 hrs, directly landed in Srinagar.
They said more such flights are also being readied by the authorities to facilitate other Kashmiris as part of the ‘Operation Vande Bharat – A homecoming’, India’s massive repatriation operation to bring home its citizens stranded abroad. Bangladesh has around 550 medical students from Kashmir, who study in various government and private medical colleges in Dhaka and Mymensingh.
Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner, Srinagar, Shahid Iqbal Choudhary expressed his gratitude to the Indian High Commission in Dhaka for the ‘tremendous efforts’ in getting these students home.
“Profound gratitude to Indian High Commission @ihcdhaka for tremendous efforts. First Airplane on way to #Srinagar. More to follow. For convenience of students –bulk tickets next. Thanks for your nice messages. Govt putting in all efforts,” Dr Choudhary earlier wrote on micro-blogging site twitter.
A Kashmiri resident, who is currently in UAE, told UNI over the phone that the Srinagar International Airport was missing in the list of (nearest) airports identified in the portal which can be selected by the returnees from UAE.
He said the residents of Jammu and Kashmir had to opt for alternative Amritsar, Chandigarh or Delhi airports.
Jammu and Kashmir government had sought information about the Union Territory residents who are stuck in different countries and wanted to return back to their home.
Zahir-ul-Islam, who is travelling alongwith five other family members, said that the name of ‘Srinagar International Airport’ was missing among the airport identified in the portal where the returnees could be brought back. We had no option but to opt for Chandigarh while some wrote Amritsar and Delhi.”
“How can we travel from Amritsar or Chandigarh or Delhi to Srinagar,” he asked.
There was also no option for families as each member had to file separate form, he said, adding ‘we are worried if we did not get chance to travel together what the minors and elderly person would do’. However, he said the matter has been taken up with consulate in Dubai.