More than 16,500 people stuck in various parts of India have been sent back to the United Kingdom. There were 64 special charter flights arranged for UK citizens in India to bring them home. The operation continued for nearly 40 days and the UK government has thanked India for its help.
Following the announcement of lock-down in March, thousands of British citizens, like other people had no choice but to stay put. With a complete ban on movement locally and a restriction on international flights, it became a challenge for the foreign nationals stuck in India to go back home safely. In order to help UK citizens go home, the British government launched a huge operation. ''The Government has run 64 special charter flights in the past 38 days to return stranded British nationals from 32 locations, across the length and breadth of India'' read a statement from the UK High Commission in India.
In terms of numbers, it was a daunting task to send that many people to England. In fact, almost 50 per cent of the UK citizens repatriated globally were from India. The UK government thanked India for its help in this ''complex operation''. ''It has been a large and complex operation with over 500 members of staff in India working around the clock to ensure flights operated smoothly and passengers could reach airports. The strict lockdown in place across India meant it was vital to work hand-in-hand with the Government of India and local authorities to transport passengers over large distances. One British national stranded in a remote village in Manipur had to travel more than 2,700 km for their flight home from New Delhi'', read the statement.
Jan Thompson, Acting High Commissioner to India, said: "The last currently scheduled charter flight left for London Heathrow from Amritsar today with over 300 passengers on board. This unprecedented repatriation effort would not have been possible without the excellent support of the Indian Government. Continued cooperation between our nations will be essential in the fight against this pandemic."
It is important to note that no further UK government charter flights are scheduled for now however they would keep reviewing the situation. In case people are still stuck and could not make it the flights arranged earlier, they could contact the high commission or consular services on these numbers. Consular helpline numbers: New Delhi: +91 (11) 2419 2100; Chennai: +91 (44) 4219 2151; Mumbai/Goa: +91 (22) 6650 2222.
(Image Credits: PTI)