NINE TT nationals have been left stranded in India with little hope of returning home with that country deciding to enforce a nationwide curfew and ban flights to combat rising covid19 cases.
The nine were expected to leave India on Saturday for Dubai and then back to TT via London. They were scheduled to return home on Tuesday.
Newsday contacted a few members of the group at about noon local time on Tuesday and was told that they are from central and south Trinidad. They arrived in New Dehli on Monday from the last leg of their tour in Nepal. They were expected to board a United Arab Emirates flight to their final destination in Dubai but were prevented from doing so.
India is nine hours ahead of TT. The group left on March 8 for the pilgrimage.
Feroza Ramjohn, a retired senior foreign service agent who is from Fyzabad, is part of the group and was contacted by Newsday on Tuesday. She said, “We were in Karol Bagh on Friday night. We got new tickets to leave Saturday morning before the airport lock down. When we got there we were not allowed to board flight. Only Arab citizens and diplomats were allowed. They escorted us out of the airport to get another hotel in New Delhi. The travel agent put us at Tavisha hotel.”
Leader of the group Jassodra Ramdeen, did not respond to e-mails about reports that money was running out for the group and they had been left to fend for themselves.
One group member who requested anonymity, e-mailed Newsday at 10 pm India time on Tuesday.
He said, “Now the situation is getting critical as PM Modi announces an extension of curfew. All major airports are closed. We are also in a community and can’t get out.”
International news agencies reported on Tuesday that prime minister Narendra Modi ordered a 21-day shut down of the entire country amidst prediction that one million people could become infected by May.
Ramjohn said that staff at the TT High Commission in India was notified of the group’s plight and have since notified TT Ministry of Foreign and Caricom Affairs.
Contacted Tuesday, deputy permanent secretary Tedwin Herbert told Newsday, “We’re aware of the situation. Can’t talk to the media on the matter at all at this time.”
Wyen Bala, manager of V’s Travel, Chaguanas, said that the group bought their tickets through his agency. He said that Arab Emirates and British Airways were the two airlines which handled the tour.
“British Airways or Arab Emirates was suppose to return the trip but the latest I heard was that the group was refused because they were non-Indian nationals. It is our hope that every thing works out well. Some locals have been helping the group with a place to stay.”
One member of the group said that on Tuesday night, she bought a box of KFC for dinner which cost her TT$100.