Can­not af­ford paid quar­an­tine: Pun­jabis flown in from Dubai

Hindustan Times (Jalandhar) - - HTSPOTLIGH­T - Sur­jit Singh sur­jit.singh@htlive.com

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.”

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