CHENNAI: Cancellation of flights owing to the lockdown left around 200 students from Tamil Nadu pursuing medicine stuck in Moscow. Staying connected through WhatsApp, they tried to book chartered flights through private operators to get back to Chennai.
However, when the operators had no direct flights to the city, about 90 students took flights bound for other States in India, leaving others behind. With their visa nearing expiry and funds drying up fast, the students were in a quandary over how to get back home. That was when help came from actor Sonu Sood, thanks to an email sent by the students.
Sharing their experience with Express, the students who reached Chennai on Wednesday and were quarantined at a hotel, said they paid Rs 33,000 for the chartered flight arranged by the actor. “The flight had a seating capacity for 200 passengers. We were not sure if the private airlines would operate chartered flights for just 101 people,” a student said.
An email that rescued stranded students
“The flight had a seating capacity for 200. We were only 101 students, including one from Delhi. We were not sure if the private airlines would operate chartered flights for this strength. “But, we learnt Sonu Sood had paid remaining amount,” said T R Sakthi Priyadarshini .
“We had a Vande Bharat flight from Moscow on July 3, but our course got over only on July 6. So we could not take that flight. Our visa was also about to expire on August 1. A relief came when the Russian government announced that students could stay back till September if they don’t get a flight. However, there were other challenges. I, for instance, had to get back to prepare for Foreign Medical Graduates Examination in December,” Priyadarshini added.
Another student, Deepan Prabhakaran, a native of Villupuram, said, “I was staying in an apartment and had to pay rent and had food expenses. I had also paid for online coaching for FMGE and didn’t have much money.” After seeing reports of the actor helping Indian students stranded in Kyrgyzstan, the students sent him an email on July 23. The staff at Sonu Sood’s office contacted the students and arranged for their trip. Express tried reaching out to the actor, but he is yet to respond.