by Tahir Bhat
SRINAGAR: Afer being stranded for nearly three months in Iran, 310 Ladakh pilgrims were flown to Delhi last night. They are supposed to land in Delhi during wee hours and will be flown to Ladakh through some connecting flights.
“A group of 310 Indian pilgrims, hailing from Ladakh, departed Tehran for New Delhi by Mahan Air tonight (16th May),” Delhi’s Iran mission said in a tweet. “Thereafter, they’ll go home to Leh by special flights. ” The flight was part of the Vande Bharat programme under which the Indian stranded across the globe are being flown home in two phases.
Authorities in Leh, a new UT carved out of Jammu and Kashmir state, are on tenterhooks to manage the transfer of the pilgrims to quarantine facilities. They are flying in special flights from Delhi directly. The UT had already declared Kargil Covid-19 free on Friday. The region has recorded 43 cases of Covid-19 of whom nine were from Kargil. So far 15 have cured and 29 are active cases. Th region has already received 754 pilgrims from Iran since January including 65 from Leh. These were in addition to 532 who came from countries other than Iran. The region has taken 4067 samples so far.
A group of 310 Indian pilgrims, hailing from Ladakh, departed Tehran for New Delhi by Mahan Air tonight (16th May). Thereafter, they'll go home to Leh by special flights. #VandeBharatMission @DrSJaishankar @harshvshringla @drharshvardhan @MEAIndia @dhamugaddam @DIPR_Leh pic.twitter.com/RzRhsc9S6j
— India in Iran (@India_in_Iran) May 16, 2020
Though a number of pilgrims and students were flown out of Iran, then the second major Covid-19 afflicted country outside China, there was still a good number left behind. The pilgrims were in dire straits for more than one reason. Some of them were facing acute shortage of money to manage their life in the commercial spaces. However, some of them were taken care of the Kargil and Kashmir origin people living in Iran.
A few days back, an emotional video was uploaded by the National Conference Kargil in which a group of women were crying and seeking help.
A few pilgrims who were infected by the virus also died in the last two months in Iran. Some of the pilgrims who had flown home in February were detected positive for Covid-19 and were treated. They all have recovered.
It was not immediately known if all the stranded pilgrims were evacuated or if there are still some who may require evacuation in coming days. Most of the people who were evacuated earlier and kept in quarantine in Jaisalmer have been driven to Srinagar already. Some of them reached home while being in quarantine for 53 days. “When you’re stuck in a quarantine facility for more than 40 days, you end up signing in anywhere possible!,” one Kashmiri student who was in the longest quarantine said in her Twitter status.