COVID-19 travel curbs: NRIs stuck in Punjab long to return home

Jalandhar: On a visit to connect with family and friends in Punjab, NRIs settled in the US, UK, Canada and Europe are finding it difficult to cope with the unplanned stay necessitated due to coronavirus travel restrictions worldwide.

Thousands of Non Resident Indians usually visit Punjab during winters

London-based NRI Satnam Singh Birring, who came to meet his parents in Jalandhar on January 23, was all set to return on March 25 but a spike in coronavirus cases and restrictions on travel put a brake on his plans.

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My wife was also planning to come to India on March 16 as we had plans to go back together. Neither could she come, nor was I able to go back to London. I even approached the British High Commission in India and the Indian High Commission in UK for a ticket in the chartered flights arranged by the UK government but all the tickets were sold out within 15-minutes! I am eagerly waiting for some solution , he said.

US-based Avtar Singh Dhillon, who came on a 28- day leave to attend a wedding in Punjab in February, is among those stuck.

My family is stuck in Tracey city in California while I am staying with my parents. Thankfully, I didn’t come on a return ticket as my father was unwell but I had plans to go back by April end but now I am stuck here. Even my family is living under lockdown in the US due to COVID-19 cases , he added.

US-based Sukhvir Singh said that his mother had travelled to San Francisco to attend his wedding and was planning to go back to India in April but was stuck now.

My brother back home in Jalandhar is eagerly awaiting my mother’s return , he said through email.

NRI from Greece Ram Lubhaya, who is in Jalandhar to meet his family, said, I came to India on January 28 and my return flight was on March 21 but by that time the Indian government imposed a ban on international flights”.

“The Greece government has announced some measures to assist its work force and I could not even avail that, he said.

Another Jalandhar-based family, Rakesh Mahi, the father of Punjabi singer Ginni Mahi has been stuck in Rome since March 4.

Mahi said that he was accompanying his daughter on a musical tour in Europe, when the situation turned bad.

We would have landed in India by April 13 but all plans were changed due to COVID-19 pandemic…We are eagerly waiting for the situation to improve , he shared through email.

However, some NRIs were lucky enough to reach their destination well on time.

Simran Kaur, who came from Canada to meet her parents in Hoshiarpur district in February, returned to Vancouver on March 15, the time when the Canadian government announced a ban on international travel.

I am glad, I reached well on time and was able to resume my work too , she quipped.

Countries across the world including India have imposed travel restrictions to contain the spread of coronavirus.

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