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Telangana natives stuck in Iraq’s Erbil due to COVID-19 lockdown demand flights home

With no job, they were having trouble sustaining themselves. The situation also took on a toll on their health.

Published: 01st July 2020 09:05 AM  |   Last Updated: 01st July 2020 09:05 AM   |  A+A-

Telangana natives stuck in Erbil protest outside the Consul General of India’s office in the northern Iraqi city.

Express News Service

HYDERABAD: Around 160 Telangana natives, who have been stuck in Iraq’s Erbil for the last four months, recently gheraoed the Consul General of India’s office in Erbil, after repeated assurances of the CGI on their return to India fell through. 

The group stormed the office demanding answers and alleged that while several flights were being arranged for natives of other Indian states, the same facility was not being extended to Telangana residents. The CGI had to call the Iraqi police to remove the protesters from the office premises. 

It has been a harrowing few months for Telangana natives in Erbil due to the lockdown. With no job, they were having trouble sustaining themselves. The situation also took on a toll on their health. When the Vande Bharat scheme was announced, they saw a glimmer of hope of returning to India. However, their hopes were short-lived, as not a single flight for Telangana has been announced by Erbil till date.

“First, those from Bihar left. Gradually, residents of all the other Indian states began leaving. Why are there no flights for us?” asked Dakshina Murthy, president Telugu Gulf Employees Welfare Association (TGEWA), Erbil.

Murthy, said that they had waited long and hard for a Vande Bharat flight, but recently opted to pay for a chartered flight so that they can return home. “We arranged a chartered flight for ourselves by paying around 650 dollars each. We got the money with great difficulty,” Murthy said. 

For their return, the Consul General had to ‘pardon’ the fines each resident had incurred for overstaying their visa. However, a day before they were supposed to depart,  they were allegedly told by the Consul that their fines could not be pardoned. Enraged, they decided to gherao the office.

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