First batch of Indians leaves under amnesty

The first batch of Indian expats who availed the amnesty offered by the Kuwait government left Kuwait yesterday on a special Jazeera Airways flight to Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh, ending the uncertainty surrounding their repatriation. Two more flights will take off to the Indian cities of Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh and Vijayawada today (Friday) as India’s aviation authorities finally gave the green signal to foreign airlines to operate special category flights to Indian airports.

“A total of 145 female passengers, including an infant, left today to the Indian city of Viajaywada in Andhra Pradesh, being the first batch of Indians flying home after availing the amnesty this year,” an Indian Embassy official said. The Kuwait government is repatriating free of charge all those who availed the amnesty to their home countries as part of the amnesty program, in what is termed as an unprecedented initiative by a Gulf country.

More than 7,000 Indian workers remained in shelters for nearly one month, while most of their counterparts from other countries flew home. Countries such as the Philippines, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Egypt allowed the repatriation of most of their nationals who availed the amnesty. Last week, nearly 240 Indians who had been detained in Kuwait’s deportation centers for various reasons were repatriated.

The decision, albeit belated, by the Indian government has brought relief to the hapless workers who were hoping to go home ever since they secured the amnesty in mid-April. According to reports, many have health emergencies while others fear contracting the coronavirus amid reports of an alarming rise in the number of cases among expats. Flights to India remain suspended since March 23 over the coronavirus lockdown and the government has made it clear it would not allow commercial flights to operate until it is fully confident that the COVID-19 pandemic is under control. “We are extremely happy – at least they started flights now. We will go home,” said Divakar, an Indian worker from Uttar Pradesh who echoed the sentiment of thousands of workers who are waiting for their turn to go home.

The amnesty program for people in the country without residency permits ran till April 30, 2020 and allowed violators to leave Kuwait without paying any fines. According to the Indian Embassy, around 7,000 residency violators have cleared the amnesty papers so far. It is expected that there may be a second phase of an amnesty after May 2020. According to official estimates, there were around 24,400 illegal Indian residents in Kuwait as of Feb 28, 2020.

Meanwhile, the second phase of India’s ‘Vande Bharat Mission’ saw the evacuation of around 550 distressed Indians from Kuwait yesterday. India’s flag carrier Air India and its subsidiary Air India Express operated three flights to Kannur, Trivandrum and Hyderabad in this phase – the airlines flew home 879 Indians in the first phase of the evacuation.By Sajeev K Peter
KUWAIT: The first batch of Indian expats who availed the amnesty offered by the Kuwait government left Kuwait yesterday on a special Jazeera Airways flight to Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh, ending the uncertainty surrounding their repatriation. Two more flights will take off to the Indian cities of Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh and Vijayawada today (Friday) as India’s aviation authorities finally gave the green signal to foreign airlines to operate special category flights to Indian airports.

“A total of 145 female passengers, including an infant, left today to the Indian city of Viajaywada in Andhra Pradesh, being the first batch of Indians flying home after availing the amnesty this year,” an Indian Embassy official said. The Kuwait government is repatriating free of charge all those who availed the amnesty to their home countries as part of the amnesty program, in what is termed as an unprecedented initiative by a Gulf country.

More than 7,000 Indian workers remained in shelters for nearly one month, while most of their counterparts from other countries flew home. Countries such as the Philippines, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Egypt allowed the repatriation of most their nationals who availed the amnesty. Last week, nearly 240 Indians who had been detained in Kuwait’s deportation centers for various reasons were repatriated.

The decision, albeit belated, by the Indian government has brought relief to the hapless workers who were hoping to go home ever since they secured the amnesty in mid-April. According to reports, many have health emergencies while others fear contracting the coronavirus amid reports of an alarming rise in the number of cases among expats.

Flights to India remain suspended since March 23 over the coronavirus lockdown and the government has made it clear it would not allow commercial flights to operate until it is fully confident that the COVID-19 pandemic is under control. “We are extremely happy – at least they started flights now. We will go home,” said Divakar, an Indian worker from Uttar Pradesh who echoed the sentiment of thousands of workers who are waiting for their turn to go home.

The amnesty program for people in the country without residency permits ran till April 30, 2020 and allowed violators to leave Kuwait without paying any fines. According to the Indian Embassy, around 7,000 residency violators have cleared the amnesty papers so far. It is expected that there may be a second phase of an amnesty after May 2020. According to official estimates, there were around 24,400 illegal Indian residents in Kuwait as of Feb 28, 2020.

Meanwhile, the second phase of India’s ‘Vande Bharat Mission’ saw the evacuation of around 550 distressed Indians from Kuwait yesterday. India’s flag carrier Air India and its subsidiary Air India Express operated three flights to Kannur, Trivandrum and Hyderabad in this phase – the airlines flew home 879 Indians in the first phase of the evacuation.

Kuwait Times 

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