Vande Bharat flight to bring 169 Indians from Dhaka to Kolkata days after spat between West Bengal and Centre
The passengers on the first flight from Dhaka to Kolkata on Monday include 73 students, 16 senior citizens, 45 stranded tourists, 16 people with medical emergencies and a pregnant woman.Updated: May 17, 2020 21:39 IST
A total of 169 Indian nationals will be repatriated from Dhaka to Kolkata on May 18 on a special Air India flight under the Vande Bharat Mission, days after the Central and West Bengal governments had sparred on the lack of flights to the state.
People familiar with developments said on condition of anonymity that special efforts have been made by the Indian high commission in Dhaka to identify and accord priority to citizens with compelling reasons to return because a large number of residents of West Bengal are currently in Bangladesh.
The passengers on the first flight from Dhaka to Kolkata on Monday include 73 students, 16 senior citizens, 45 stranded tourists, 16 people with medical emergencies and a pregnant woman.
“Not only in Dhaka, but Indian nationals stranded across Bangladesh were facilitated and the passengers for this flight have come from 18 different districts,” said one of the people cited above.
Once the passengers reach Kolkata, they will be placed in quarantine for 14 days, following which they will travel to their homes spread across more than 20 districts, including Pashim Bardhaman, North 24 Parganas, Purba Medinipur and Jalpaiguri.
Kolkata was not among the destinations in the initial list of 149 repatriation flights from more than 30 countries in the second phase of Vande Bharat Mission that will bring back some 32,000 people. The second phase began on May 16, after some 15,000 people were repatriated on 64 flights in the first phase.
“Vande Bharat Mission is a very dynamic operation and flights are being added almost every day,” said another person.
The Central and West Bengal governments were involved in a spat on the repatriation flights on May 14, with the external affairs ministry saying the state hadn’t confirmed if it has arranged quarantine facilities to receive people wishing to return from abroad.
External affairs ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava tweeted that flights to repatriate residents of West Bengal from abroad could be arranged if the state government confirmed it has organised quarantine facilities for them.
Srivastava was responding to a tweet from West Bengal’s higher education minister Partha Chatterjee, who posted a schedule of the flights being organised during the second phase of Vande Bharat Mission and questioned why there were no flights to the state.
According to the external affairs ministry, more than 3,700 people from West Bengal have registered for repatriation from different parts of the world.