Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Returnees recount harrowing journey

By Our Correspondent Updated: Jun 11, 2020 8:04 pm

Our Correspondent
Kohima, June 11 (EMN):
Many returnees, who reached Dimapur on June 8 via an Air India aircraft and relocated at the quarantine centre on June 9, shared that they experienced fatigue and hunger throughout their journey from Delhi to Kohima.

Speaking to Eastern Mirror, two returnees shared that they move out from their places in the wee hours to catch the flight scheduled to take off at 7:10 am from Indira Gandhi Delhi International Airport to Kolkata.

One of the returnees, who is a Delhi-based flight attendant by profession, stated that in order to check-in at the airport by 4:30 am, she got up at 3:30 am. The returnee informed that after reaching Netaji Subhas Chandra Boss International Airport at Kolkata between 9:30 am to 10:00 am, there was layover for five hours before flying to Dimapur.

“We didn’t get to eat anything because all the restaurants in and out of the airport were shut down,” she said, adding that the passengers of the Air India flight were not served any lunch except a small bottle of water.

It was informed that even after landing at Dimapur airport, they had to wait for another half-an-hour without getting anything to drink or eat.

Returnees from Delhi, who were bound for Kohima, also apprised that they had to wait for several minutes in the buses which were lined up in sequential manner. The returnees informed they were taken to the Agri

Expo site instead of proceeding to Kohima. On reaching Agri Expo site, they were not given any refreshment or even a glass of water, except an official instructing the driver to proceed to Kohima.

“Imagine we started our journey in the morning and they didn’t even welcome us with a small bottle of water,” the flight attendant wondered.

Adding to their misery, there was nobody to guide them if there were any washrooms for the returnees.

“We were so tired and thirsty. We can’t even use washroom which added to our misery and made us very uncomfortable again,” said the other returnee who is a research scholar from Delhi.

“We know we shouldn’t go out of the bus and search for the washrooms just like that because even if we wish to use them that would put people lives at risk,” she said, adding, “They could have eased our problems a little bit but maybe these all happened because of miscommunication.”

After going through lots of mental stress and depression due to the nationwide lockdown for three months, the kind of journey some of the returnees experienced made things worse.

A Kohima-bound returnee, who is a beautician by profession, said that she
had earlier booked her Air India flight ticket just a couple of days ahead of the nationwide lockdown, but had to stay back in Kolkata all alone for a long period of time. She claimed that the airline hasn’t refunded for the cancelled flight ticket.

The beautician also said how the bus ferrying the Kohima-bound returnees, after travelling almost one hour, had to take a U-turn to Agri Expo site to pick up two passengers who were left behind. She said, on reaching the reception centre, there was not even a glass of water served to quench their thirst except some security personnel and officials taking their details, while picking up the two passengers.

By the time they reached their quarantine centre at Meriema in Kohima at around midnight, the returnee stated that she could hardly scoop five spoons of rice into her mouth as she had already lost her appetite.

Adding to their woes, the returnees were made to walk for few minutes with heavy luggage as they were told that the bus would not be allowed to drop them till the quarantine centre due to the narrow road. However, they claimed that the road to the centre was ply-able.

They informed this newspaper that they were made to sit in the bus while being ferried to give their samples at the control room. They also expressed concern that the protocol of social distancing needs to be maintained in order to avoid getting contracted from persons with Covid-19.

When contacted, an official at Agri Expo site informed that food items were being provided for the returnees besides making available the washroom facilities. He however stated that there could have been miscommunication that the returnees were not informed about the facilities available at the reception centre at Agri Expo site.

Another medical official, while expressing regret for the inconvenience caused to the returnees, suggested that the returnees raise their voice if they need anything instead of remaining mute, so that they get help.

By Our Correspondent Updated: Jun 11, 2020 8:04:31 pm