Published: 18th March 2020
Four Indian students on exchange trip to Warsaw stranded by COVID-19 travel ban. Will MEA help them return?
Requests to get the students back home has been posted on Twitter as well but Dr Jaishankar does not seem to be as fast in offering help as late Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj
Pridhi Aggarwal, a 21-year-old student of the Birla Institute of Management and Technology, Noida and three of her classmates had gone to the University of Warsaw on a student exchange programme. But as the Coronavirus pandemic spread they have not been able to come back home as the Indian government has not sanctioned their return, claims Pridhi's family. Attempts to reach the Ministry of External Affairs or the PMO have reportedly been futile.
Pridhi's father, Harsh Aggarwal, a businessman from Model Town in New Delhi, has tried to contact the ministry, Dr S Jaishankar, the External Affairs minister and Dr Harsh Vardhan, the MP of their Lok Sabha constituency (Chandni Chowk), but in vain. Requests to get the students back home has been posted on Twitter as well but Dr Jaishankar has not responded at this point. "The embassy there is cooperating with us. All the ministry here needs to do is sanction their landing, otherwise, the Polish charter planes that are coming to pick up their nationals from Delhi, cannot let them board. But the officials and ministers here are extremely lazy. All they have to do is let them land here," said Harsh. "The hostels they were staying at have been evacuated and they had nowhere to go. My daughter and three of her classmates are staying at a hotel. They are healthy and none of them has a fever. The minister needs to give a green light but they have not been able to do that much," said the father.
The youngest of four siblings, Pridhi is the only daughter. She was accepted as an exchange student to attend courses at the Faculty of Political Science and International Studies of the University of Warsaw from February 17 to July 5. They were living in one of the varsity's dorms when the outbreak caused a sudden panic across the world and everything shut down.
A screenshot of the email that her brother had sent to the ministries along with a video of Pridhi explaining the situation has been shared on social media by several users. But the reactions to the tweets were not favourable. While Sushma Swaraj's attempts to solve issues posted on Twitter as soon as she could were lauded, Twitterati went against the girl and her family this time. "Why did they visited the epicentre of the outbreak? Now pleading Indian government. Disgusting people," tweeted a user from Mumbai.
The Indian Embassy tweeted an advisory on March 18 that even though travel from Poland has been prohibited till March 31, students can contact the Embassy for help.