Diplomatic missions assisting hundreds of Malaysians stranded in India

PETALING JAYA: Over 200 Malaysians are stranded in India following the country’s ban on all to and fro flights from Malaysia last week to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.

The affected Malaysians, who had left for India over the past three weeks for pilgrimage, leisure and other purposes, claim that the travel restriction has caused them hardship in India as they are running out of funds and are unable to sustain the extended stay.

B. Vikneswaran, 37, who is among those stranded in Trichy, said all outbound flights have been restricted by India since Saturday, leaving at least 100 people in the lurch in the southern Tamil Nadu state.

The offshore oil and gas vessel captain said he had arrived in India last week with his wife - just two days before India closed its borders to two-way travel on March 13.

“Malaysians who were to leave on Saturday were told their flight is moved to the next day. Then another batch was given the same response on Sunday until some 100 people are now stranded. The blame game is ongoing with the Indian, Malaysian and airline authorities pointing fingers at each other for this predicament. The Malaysian consulate in Chennai has also not been very helpful to our plight. “We just want to go home and we are prepared to face the two-week self-quarantine that will be imposed in Malaysia. There are elderly folk and children here. We are running out of cash and the hotels here are not keen on admitting Malaysians. There are babies who are running out of special milk formula which is not available in India,“ said Vikneswaran who reached out to theSun today.

MIC president Tan Sri S. Vigneswaran when contacted yesterday said he is aware of the situation and efforts to ensure the return of the stranded Malaysians is underway.

He said the affected travellers had gone to India on flights of several local and foreign airlines.

“We do not have the exact numbers yet but we believe there are over 200 of them scattered in several states in India. They are in Chennai, Trichy, Amritsar, Bangalore and others. We are aware of the predicament they are in and are working with the Malaysian consulate in Chennai to gather all of them at a single location before flying them back to Malaysia. We hope to get this done in a day or two,“ he told theSun.

Vigneswaran’s deputy and Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M. Saravanan has also arranged for lodging and other essentials to be handed to the stranded passengers.

Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said discussions between the Malaysian and Indian government are ongoing to facilitate the return of the stranded Malaysians.

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