Auckland, May 4, 2020
National MP Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi has sought the help of the Indian government for the return of about 800 Indian nationals and people of Indian origin stranded in various parts of India due to the Covid-19 lockdown.
The lockdown, which is extensive, has been extended by the federal government in New Delhi from May 3 to May 18, 2020.
In a letter to External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar today, Mr Bakshi asked him to consider allowing the stranded people to board flights arriving in New Zealand to arrange for the return of Indian nationals held up in this country.
Among those stranded in India are New Zealand citizens, permanent residents and temporary visa holders, who were unable to utilise the chartered flights arranged by the New Zealand government during the past ten days.
More than 700 people from India have returned in the special flights that were operated from New Delhi and Mumbai international airports.
Stranded in South and East
However, there are similar number of people stranded in other cities such as Chennai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Trivandrum and Kolkata– they have not been able to travel to Mumbai or Delhi because of closure of all state borders and transport services. Special permission is required for people to travel outside their immediate neighbourhoods.
Mr Bakshi said that many people stranded in India as well as Indians help up in New Zealand have approached him for assistance.
Stress and anxiety
“Once you have planned repatriation flights from New Zealand, may I suggest that flights starting from various cities in India can also be used to fly stranded New Zealand citizens, permanent residents and work visa holders back to their homes?” he said in the letter.
Mr Bakshi said that such a step will help to reduce their stress and anxiety as well as help them return to base and start planning for the coming months.
“New Zealand and India have always cooperated with each other; this operational cooperation will further strengthen our people to people connectivity,” Mr Bakshi said.