Doha: Indian expatriates in Qatar have alleged that the embassy is ignoring pregnant women, seriously ill patients and jobless persons while preparing the list of people to be airlifted back home under the much-publicised Vande Bharat Mission.
The embassy, instead, is facilitating the travel of ineligible persons, they have alleged.
The Indian government launched Vande Bharat Mission on May 7 to evacuate Indians stranded in various countries due to COVID-19 restrictions. Around 12,000 Indians have been brought back home so far. The second phase of the mission, which began on May 16, will continue till May 22.
In Qatar, the selection of passengers is being done by a panel comprising members of various expatriate organisations. But the final list is being prepared by the embassy officials, and this appears to be the reason for the allegation.
Around 45,000 Indians have evinced interest in coming back home from Qatar. Of these, 28,000 are from Kerala.
Indian Ambassador to Qatar had told mediapersons last week that the list of passengers was prepared transparently. Pregnant women, patients, people who lost jobs, visa-expired persons were given top priority, he had said.
However, Indians have not taken his statement at face value. They are now demanding that the Indian embassy should release the list for public scrutiny. "If the Ambassador is claiming that the list is transparent, he should release the list," said a social worker.
On Saturday, the Indian Cultural Centre in Doha – the venue of ticket distribution - witnessed emotional scenes.
A person from Kerala, who arrived to collect air tickets to go back home along with his eight-month pregnant wife and their three-year-old child, was shocked when the Indian Embassy officials told him that only his wife could go home. They told him that tickets for others were not approved.
He pleaded with the officials that his wife had a medical condition and at least the child should be allowed to travel with her. However, his pleas fell on deaf ears.
Another Kannur resident, who wanted to take his seven-month pregnant wife and child, too had a harrowing experience. Despite registering in advance, he said the embassy granted ticket to only his wife.
'Embassy has final word'
The list of eligible Keralites was prepared by a committee with five members of various Malayali organisations. Committee member K M Varghese said they ensured tickets for eligible applicants. However, he said the final list of passengers was prepared by the embassy.