Dubai: Several stranded Indians from the state of Maharashtra, who have been desperately seeking repatriation flights from the UAE, have intensified their campaign on social media.
Many of them have formed WhatsApp groups and intensified Twitter campaigns with hashtags that appeal for repatriation flights from the UAE to Maharashtra in central India.
Some have also changed their Twitter names and profile pictures to reflect their appeal.
‘##UAE to Maharashtra: Don’t ignore us’ is one of the Twitter accounts that recently changed its profile picture with images of many stranded Maharashtrians along with messages related to their campaign.
Several people in distress have been posting video clips to share their plight and seek authorities’ attention. Some are seen folding their hands and appealing for help in a choked voice.
Many have also voiced that what is more frustrating to them is that there is no communication from the state government while it has given permission for flights to land from many countries except the UAE.
Neha Sawant, a single mother of 19-month-old twin girls, who came to Dubai looking for a job, is one of the stranded Maharashtrians.
In an audio message posted on Twitter she said she failed to get a job and her return ticket got cancelled due to the COVID-19 situation.
Citing that one of her twin daughters is extremely unwell and her aged parents are unable to take care, the single mother pleaded with the authorities to reunite her with her family at the earliest.
Dubai resident Vicky Vaidya, who has been on unpaid leave and without job for last two months, posted a video of him and his six months pregnant wife, who is on a visit visa and without medical insurance, appealing for repatriation.
The woman said they were facing financial problems in paying rents and meeting medical expenses and appealed for repatriation to at least Mangalore where her father is located since there has been no flight to Mumbai.
The appeal follows a video by another Maharashtrian woman, who is 34-weeks pregnant, in which she thanked the state of Kerala and the Indian Consulate in Dubai for arranging her repatriation to Kerala.
Frustrated Maharashtrians have also been flooding the Twitter pages of the Indian missions in the UAE with their appeals.
Central-state government blame game
In reply to one of the posts on the subject, the Indian Consulate on Saturday said: “Several people from Maharashtra stranded here and we cannot help them unless there are flights to Maharashtra which is to be received from Central and state govt.”
Replying to another video in which an elderly couple visiting their son in Abu Dhabi appealed for repatriation with folded hands as they have run out of medicines, the consulate said: “We are pained to see old couple requesting us… We apologise for this situation…without any fault on our part...with hope that things will soon change.”
In reply to the consulate, @spmishra1986 who changed the Twitter name to #StartFlightUAEtoBOM tweeted, tagging various ministers in the state and central governments.
“Please don’t crush us in this state/[central] politics. Please act now and evacuate #Maharashtrians from UAE. It has been quite long we are requesting and we are losing our patience now. Please help us. We are Indians.”
Update from state government
In an update given on repatriation flights to Maharashtra on Saturday, state minister and chief minister’s son Aaditya Thackeray tweeted.
“Repatriation update: A total of 26 flights, with 3,459 people repatriated from 17 countries, in Vande Bharat I & II till 30th May 2020 landed in Maharashtra. From 31st May to 7th June, 6 more flights will land, if not more.
“From 7th June, 3rd phase of Vande Bharat will begin. State is coordinating with Union Govt to cover the sectors that haven’t yet been covered and to repatriate more people from these sectors,” added Thackeray who had earlier posted about his conversation with India’s Minister of External Affairs Dr. S. Jaishankar regarding repatriation flights.
Stranded Maharashtrians in the UAE have now sought to clarify if their pleas for flights would be heard at least from June 7.