Stranded Indians can return only if states take them

Indians stranded abroad due to coronavirus lockdown to be brought back only if states agree to take them

Representative image/iStock

The Centre will bring back the Indian citizens stranded abroad due to the ban on arrival of international passenger aircraft, only if the respective states they belong to agree to allow them to come back home and make necessary arrangements to quarantine them after their return.

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The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has started consultations with the State Governments on bringing back the Indians, who got stranded in the United States, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Canada and many other foreign countries due to the ban on arrival of international passenger aircraft to any airport in the country. The decision on facilitating their return to the country would be taken after getting feedback on preparedness of the States and the Union Territory to receive them following all required health precautions, Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba said.

Gauba on Saturday had a video-conference with the Chief Secretaries of all States and Union Territories to review the implementation of the restrictions on travel and transport as well as the lockdown imposed across the country to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

Though the Government earlier either evacuated or facilitated the return of nearly 28000 Indians from a number of foreign countries affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, it almost stopped doing so after the ban on arrival of international passenger aircraft was enforced on March 23 in the wake of the spurt in the number of COVID-19 cases in India.

Thousands of Indian students, tourists, professionals and others are stranded around the world, including in the countries, where respective governments had imposed lockdowns to contain the pandemic. They have been desperately requesting the government on social media to evacuate them.