Cannot afford paid quarantine: Punjabis flown in from Dubai
AMRITSAR : “Due to lockdown, we had already fallen short of money at Dubai and were fed by others on humanitarian ground for around two months. We were shocked when we were asked to be put in paid quarantine at hotels on landing in our own country,” said Parminder Singh, who was among 178 Punjabis evacuated from UAE by a special Air India flight from Dubai on Wednesday.
After they refused to stay at hotels, all the evacuees, including children and women, had to spend nearly the entire night inside the terminal of Sri Guru Ram Das Jee International Airport here under police watch.
The flight arrived at the airport at around 9.15 pm on Wednesday and the evacuees were forced to remain there till 4 am on Thursday. Later, 38 of them belonging to Amritsar were finally put in quarantine at Swami Vivekanand Drug De-Addiction and Rehabilitation Centre while the others were sent to their respective districts.
“As we landed at the airport, the government staff gave a proforma to each of us to fill. For 14-day quarantine period, there were options of five various hotels, with charges ranging from Rs 1,000 to Rs 3,800 per head per day,” he said. “None of us had money to pay for hotel charges for 14 days. We did not have money to purchase even our ticket to return through special flights and some NGOs paid for us”, said Parminder, who belongs to the city and was staying at Dubai on work permit.
“We had to stay in a closed terminal from 9.15 pm to around 4 am, which was no less than a nightmare for us,” said Harjit Kaur, who also belongs to Amritsar. In some videos shot by the passengers at the airport, chaoslike situation prevailed inside, with norms of social distancing given a go by and parents seen purchasing costly milk for their kids. ADC Himanshu Aggarwal, said, “We had made quarantine arrangements in hotels as the Indians evacuated from other countries recently protested against being quarantined in government centres.” Denying chaos at the airport, he added, “For passengers’ facilitation, many of our officers spent hours at the airport to manage the things.”