After weeks of miscommunication, domestic flights were canceled and shutdown, Manjinder Singh Sekhon and his father, Surjit Singh Sekhon, will be able to return to Canada after being stuck in India for a global pandemic.
“It has been an absolute nightmare, my father feels a lot of pressure to make sure she keeps my grandfather safe and in good health,” said Jasminder Sekhon, Manjinder’s daughter.
On March 24, Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi announced the country’s 1.3 billion people will go to a three-week-long shutdown to limit the spread of COVID-19.
As a result, police and government officials were restricting non-essential travel and while living thousands of miles away, Jasminder handed the task of bringing home his family.
On Monday, after a week-long ordeal, Jasminder secured two tickets to bring home his family on Air India flights from Amritsar to return to Canada on Tuesday. The cost of each ticket is $ 2,900, which is almost three times as expensive as a good way of a one-way flight.
Sekhon said he heard from other families who have as many as four family members trapped in India, and ticket prices are what keep them from home.
“It’s the price-gouging, it is remarkable that we are told reports on the business involved in the practice, but the return ticket is almost three times the usual price-it was awful,” he said.
‘I feel like a heavyweight has been lifted’
trials began last week when Air India canceled flights Sekhons’ for April 1 and fathers and children are left without a clear answer on how to proceed.
“We tried to contact Air India, but low they close, we can not even contact anyone there to even have a conversation,” said Jasminder. “We feel trapped.”
Sekhon said he tried repeatedly to talk to someone on the phone but to no avail, and even e-mail it to the High Commission of Canada in India do not get the response he needed.
“When COVID began to accelerate in Canada, we saw the ticket to bring my father and grandfather back, we were just told that no tickets available, nobody knew what to do,” said Sekhon.
With the help of the Canadian government’s good or word from their airline, Sekhon finally began to disrupt their travel agent had booked with an after-hours messaging is able to secure a ticket.
“My family and I felt like a heavy burden has been lifted, we are very grateful to be together as a family after so many uncertainties,” he said.
According to Global Affairs Canada, Canada 27 352 registered in India with the Canadian Register of Foreign Service. Registration is voluntary and could be higher, and most like the Sekhon family did not realize how serious the situation when hit.
When contacted by Yahoo News, Global Affairs spokesman said they are working with Canada in India to return via flights from Amritsar, Delhi, Bangalore, and Mumbai.
“Despite our best efforts, it will not be possible to ensure the return of all Canadians who want to go home. To prepare for this, Global Affairs Canada provides advice to increase and support for Canada has been outside of Canada or unable to return to Canada. We encourage Canada to foreign countries to follow the advice of local authorities, “wrote an email to Yahoo News.
‘‘ There was a complete lack of clarity,’ family says
This Jasminder grandfather, Surjit, is a survivor of lung cancer, and at the age of 84, he wanted to visit India once again when he was still in good health.
“By the time they left, the only concern that we have to make sure that my grandfather did not face health complications,” said Jasminder.
However, this Surjit reduced health required special treatment and dressings needed changing every few months, but they can not be bought in India.
“[My father] could not just go to the drugstore and get what they need, so they can not get access to what they need, it is a stressful situation,” he said.
Another problem with the new repatriation flights are offered at the time has Sekhons originally had direct flight tickets from Delhi to Toronto, but the new flights offered by Air India, including a stopover in Britain, which is a major concern.
“We do not want them stopped in Europe, because at that time, it was the center of COVID-19, and with their age we are worried,” said Jasminder.
Over the past few weeks, Sekhon heard from Canadians who have loved ones stuck in the same predicament, and some that can seat unsafe at low discharge did not know what to do.
“There is a complete lack of clarity about who they are trying to bring back home, people are really stuck abroad and it was a failure,” he said.
Now, with the family back home, Sekhon intends to continue to fight for the thousands of Canadians hit overseas in India.
“Our fight is far from over … we will continue to encourage the repatriation of more flights and a fair price,” he said.
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