As many as 265 British citizens, majority of them overseas Indians, who were stranded in parts of Gujarat since the lockdown, were flown back to the United Kingdom by a special chartered flight from the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International (SVPI) airport in Ahmedabad on Wednesday.
According to officials of British High Commission in India, a total of 265 British citizens, including three infants, were ferried from parts of Gujarat to Ahmedabad and then flown back to the United Kingdom on Wednesday afternoon.
“We are very pleased that we were able to get more than 500 British nationals and their families back home through two flights this week. There is one more flight scheduled this Friday. We are thankful to the Indian government and the Airports Authority,” said David French, field deployment team, British High Commission.
According to British High Commission officials, they had given a call to all stranded British citizens in India to register their details with them and a total of 19 special chartered flights have been arranged for them from Goa, Mumbai and New Delhi, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Thiruvananthapuram, Kolkata, Chennai and Amritsar between April 8 and April 20.
The High Commission offici-als confirmed that over 21,000 British citizens in India registered their details on their portal. How-ever, the officials said they would be able to ferry 5,000 citizens initially. After the first 19 flights are over, more such flights will be commissioned, they added.
“After the citizens register their details with us, we assess them and preference is given to passengers based on their vulnerability along with any other illness or disability. To help the stranded citizens, a four-member team from New Delhi-based British High Commission in India is in Ahmedabad,” said an official of the British High Commission posted at the SVPI airport.
The officials said that special curfew passes from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) were arranged for the British citizens to move from their respective locations to Ahmedabad airport due to the lockdown.
“We had arranged over 200 private vehicles for the stranded citizens to be ferried to Ahmedabad airport in the past one week,” said the official.
Many passengers who spoke to The Indian Express claimed that they had come to tourist places in Gujarat in January and February during their annual vacation.
“I had come to Porbandar for two weeks, but then due to lockdown, my stay got extended to two-and-a-half months. I am of Gujarati descent but was born and brought up in parts of Africa and later I settled in the UK after retirement,” said 68-year-old Kirit Thanki, one of the rescued British citizens.
“I had come to Diu for a vacation but due to lockdown, my stay got extended to 40 days,” said 27-year-old Sunny, a resident of Leicester in the UK, who goes by first name only.
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