Monday, March 23, 2020

Over 300 Indian students stranded at Kazakhstan airport, seek ‘just one flight home’

Over 300 Indian medical students are stranded in Kazakhstan’s Almaty Airport after India banned international arrivals from March 22 to March 31. The students haven’t been able to leave the airport for more than three days now as Almaty is under lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. Almaty is Kazakhstan’s biggest city and its airport accounts for half of the country’s air traffic.

Students said the discrimination by the locals are adding to their woes. People are denying them accommodation, they claimed, adding shopkeepers too are refusing groceries, sanitisers and masks to them.

Deepak Dhaka, a student from Rajasthan, said, “When Almaty was locked down, we were afraid it could be extended to the entire Kazakhstan. We left our university, which is over 15 hours train journey away, for the airport. But after reaching the airport, we were apprised about India’s travel ban.”
Students are stuck at the airport without proper food, sleep and sanitation. “We failed to find any accommodation near the airport as people said foreigners will bring the virus in their property,” Deepak added.

Even if some of them have managed to get accommodation, they are being subjected to discrimination by shopkeepers. Sonypriya Phanjoubam, a student from Manipur, said “Our friends gave us their apartment here before they left for India on March 21. But we have limited stock of food. Shopkeepers have supplies but they don’t want to sell to foreigners.”
23/03/20 Naman Shah/Indian Express
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