Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday termed the Centre’s circular barring the return of Indians from coronavirus-hit countries as “uncivilised”. According to the recent circular Indians stuck in countries like Italy cannot return unless they produce a certificate that proves they have tested negative for the virus.
Pinarayi Vijayan has written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi late Tuesday night seeking his intervention to withdraw the circular issued by Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in this connection.
The circular stipulated that people “travelling from or having visited Italy or South Korea” and desirous of entering India “need to obtain certificates of having tested negative for COVID-19” from the designated laboratories authorised by the health authorities of those countries.
Pinarayi Vijayan said the state Assembly would consider moving a resolution in this regard in the ongoing session seeking the intervention of the Centre to bring back the stranded Indians including many Keralites, from abroad.
“How can we say that an Indian citizen cannot come back to India just because he is infected? Barring our citizens from coming to the country is an uncivilised attitude,” Pinarayi Vijayan told the Assembly in his reply to a calling of attention motion.
The Chief Minister has also shot off a letter to Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri to withdraw the circular and bring back the Indians stranded in the airport despite having booked tickets.
In his letter to PM Modi, Pinarayi Vijayan said the foreign authorities were not ready to test people without symptoms as they were already overloaded with patients.
“We are receiving information that many Indians are stranded in airports in Italy as they are not able to board flights to cities in India without this certificate. The certificates have been made mandatory irrespective of whether these travellers have symptoms or not,” Pinarayi Vijayan said.
The Kerala Chief Minister also said the stranded Indians could be brought back to the country and can be kept in quarantine in case they test positive on arrival.
“While there is no difference of opinion that enough safeguards should be taken so that the disease does not spread, undue hardships to Indians abroad wanting to come home in an hour of crisis is totally unwarranted. They can be tested on arrival and kept in quarantine if necessary. There are necessary facilities in our country,” Pinarayi Vijayan said in the letter.
The plight of Indians in Italy came to light after Hima, a woman from Kerala, stranded at an airport in the European nation released a video showing their hardships.
“We are being treated as smugglers. People have commented on the video put up on Facebook asking us why we want to come back to Kerala.
Many came to the airport without knowing that a certificate would be required to for them to travel. The airport authorities say that India was not ready to receive us,” she said in a voice message to media.
The woman said at least 200 Indians were stranded at Milan and Rome airports. “We are sitting at a corner of the airport in freezing temperature. It is just like an isolation ward. The central government should give us the certificate to enable us to return”, she said.
With eight more testings positive for coronavirus in Kerala on Tuesday, the total number of infected people now under treatment touched 14, as the state government decided to impose restrictions, including the closure of educational institutions and cinema houses till month end to halt its further spread.