Updated: March 12, 2020 10:04:09 pm
Two students from Amravati district are stranded in Milan, Italy, after up to 150 Indians were allegedly not allowed to fly back to New Delhi on Air India flight (AI 138) on March 10, a day before the government announced a clampdown to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pranav Vairale from Amravati city and Suraj Bundele from Achalpur town, both studying in Italy, had booked tickets on the flight scheduled to take off at 8 pm on March 10, according to their parents Gopal Vairale and Shyam Bundele, respectively. “The flight was rescheduled for 10 pm. But later they were told they can’t board the flight as the government had announced restrictions on travelers’ entry into India. They were surprised as they had no information about such an announcement. We later gathered the government made the announcement on March 11, yet they were disallowed to take the flight a day earlier,” Gopal Vairale, principal of a college at Badnera, told The Indian Express.
“All the passengers were later taken to a nearby gurudwara, where they were allowed to stay only 24 hours. There is no clarity yet on what will happen next,” Vairale said, adding, “we are told a team of Indian doctors is reaching there to help Indian nationals”.
Pranav joined a postgraduation course in risk mitigation in civil engineering in Italy on February 24. “Classes started on March 9. But the students were told that due to the outbreak of coronavirus they can attend classes online. So, Pranav wanted to return home and attend online classes from here,” Vairale said.
Suraj’s father said, “My son is in Italy for the past three years and is doing Bachelor of Graphic Design in animation. He was to return in July after his final exam. By he decided to return early after the coronavirus outbreak. Affected or not affected, we want our children back with us.”
Vairale and Bundele have sent an SOS to Amravati Independent MP Navneet Rana seeking help to arrange their sons’ return to India at the earliest.
Talking to The Indian Express from Milan, Pranav said, “We have been asked by Indian embassy officials here to travel to a place called Cremona, which is about 112 km from here. But we can’t travel as the Italian government has ordered a clampdown on travel. We are not sure if the officials themselves are going to reach us.”
Suraj said, “The Indian consulate in Milan is totally closed. Only the one in Rome is functioning. We have no information from Indian authorities. Most of the students on the flight were from Milan. They have returned to their homes here but as Milan city is completely closed, we won’t be able to get anything to even eat.”
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