3 special flights to bring stranded Kashmiris from Saudi Arabia

Three direct Air India flights shall bring 447 stranded Kashmiris from Saudi Arabia within next one week, even as two more special flights¬— one each from Oman and Qatar— shall also bring back 298 Kashmiris.

As per the travel itinerary for the second phase of “Vande Bharat Mission” released by Ministry of External Affairs, the three Saudi Arabia-Srinagar flights are among 13 others to operate between May 29 and June 4. The flights will bring back persons of various states of India stranded in Saudi Arabia.

Officials said each of the three flights have a passenger capacity of 149.  “The flights will be arriving at Srinagar from Riyadh, Dammam and Jeddah,” says the official schedule.

As per the travel itinerary, Riyadh-Srinagar flight will be on May 29 and Dammam– Srinagar flight will be on May 31. The third flight between Jeddah to Srinagar will be on June 4.

The MEA itinerary also says that there is a special flight between Qatar-Srinagar on May 31 and Muscat-Srinagar on June 2 with capacity of 149 passengers on each flight.

With the announcement of special flights, thousands of Indian people stranded in Dubai and other Gulf countries

have raised voice to an ever higher pitch for their evacuation.

Several persons stranded in Dubai told this newspaper about the “hardships” they have been facing due to the covid19 lockdown. They welcomed the first direct flight between Dubai and Srinagar last week but demanded more such flights be pressed into service.

“We are glad that the process of evacuation has started, but considering that there are almost 1000 persons keen to return home, there should be more flights,” said Aamir Rafiq, a Kashmiri stranded in Dubai.

Meanwhile, Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) said that it has been receiving distress messages from businessmen and students stranded in various countries especially Dubai, Muscat and Kyrgyzstan. “The students from Kyrgyzstan have also forwarded a list of 381 persons along with all details who are waiting to be airlifted to Srinagar. In view of their difficult financial conditions, we have urged the government to consider their pleas on humanitarian grounds,” said a statement issued by KCCI.