A business-come-pleasure trip for Indian rifle shooter Aayushi Gupta and her husband Saksham has turned into a nightmare.
The couple, which got married in January, has been stuck in Zambia’s Lusaka for over a month now with little hope of knowing when or how they will be able to plan their journey back to India.
They were booked to return on March 27 but the Indian Government announced on March 19 that from March 22 no flights would land in India.
Failing to get any flights, the duo approached the Indian High Commission to get help. But no help has come their way yet and they are running on fumes.
After their visas expired on March 27 they had to apply for temporary residency permit.
They had to move into a service apartment. The expenses have run up to Rs 2.5 lakh (Indian Rupees) =61,248.41 Zambian Kwacha in a month.
And with cases rising in Lusaka, at least 10 new cases were confirmed on Saturday, the couple’s worries are only rising.
“We tried to buy tickets to rush back but nothing was available. All the flights were booked,” Aayushi, who has represented India at the World University Games, Junior World Cup, told The Tribune.
“The cases are rising here and we were told by a cab driver that the number of Covid-19 cases in Lusaka is far more that it is being revealed. We are not very sure of the medical facilities here. We are taking a big risk when we step out to buy groceries. What will happen if we get infected? We are very scared,” the 25-year-old added.
Countless mails and reminders to the Indian High Commission, Ministry of External Affairs and even to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath — Aayushi represents UP in national shooting competitions — have not borne any result.
“The only reply we have received is a forwarded message from MEA’s Covid-19 helpline. They have basically forwarded our email ids to the high commission here. So basically it is nothing as we have been dealing with the high commission staff for a month and nothing has come our way in terms of a plan or a solution,” Saksham Gupta, who runs a consultancy firm for major education institutions, said.
Aayushi said the rising costs are another worry. “We came here on a budget. And now we are exhausting our savings. The situation is only adding to the anxieties of our families as they want us back soon,” she said.
Saksham suspects that there are only 10 Indians whose visas were expiring on or after the day the lockdown began and that is why they are not being heard. “I may be wrong but I think that is the case as I don’t see any interest from the staff here to help. We are getting desperate to come back. All we need is to give us some hope or an extraction plan, things we need to do like reach a neighbouring country where the numbers of Indians waiting to go back home are higher so that a plane can be arranged… something like that,” he added.
Tribune News Service