Many people have returned to India from overseas after the coronavirus outbreak. However, many are afraid those returning NRIs may be carrying the virus.
Virbhan Jain had returned to India from the US after enjoying a holiday with his son. Little did he know that he would not be welcomed back at his home town Kaithal in the northern state of Haryana.
A day after his arrival, police knocked at his door.
“They took him and his wife. Both had returned from the US. Somebody must have tipped the police off as everybody is scared of coronavirus," says Nitin Bhardwaj, a neighbour of Mr Jain.
"There is a fear that people returning from abroad are the careers of the virus, so nobody wants them.”
Over 90,000 Indians have returned from overseas.
The coronavirus death toll has reached 11 in India.
Indians top the list of people living overseas.
Many Indians live in the European countries that have high number of coronavirus cases such as Italy and Spain.
India has announced a 21-day lockdown. The country had introduced a ban on international flights from 22 March.
However, thousands of Indians had returned from abroad before the borders were closed. Only in the northern state of Punjab, the number of Indians returning from abroad is over 90,000.
The Health Minister of Punjab S Balbir Singh Sindhu has demanded special assistance from the Government of India saying the high number of people returning from abroad has worsened the situation in the state.
In a letter to the central health minister, Mr Sindhu wrote, “Punjab has the maximum number of NRIs in the country, and this month only 90,000 of them have landed in the state. Many of them have symptoms of Covid-19 and are further spreading the disease through their contact/transmission.”
The state government has formed teams of health and police department to trace these people returning from abroad in their respective villages or towns.
Then, they are being examined and asked to do self-quarantine for 14 days.
Daily we are getting the list of 1,000 to 1,500 NRIs in our district for the past couple of days, said Deputy Commissioner, Jalandhar, Varinder Sharma, to the Indian Express.
India has the highest number of people living abroad. Over 20 million live and work overseas. It is a symbol of status for many families to settle down overseas. However, the coronavirus pandemic has turned the tables.
“For the first time in my life, I am hearing that people don’t want to tell they have returned from abroad. Locals want to avoid meeting any NRIs these days. I think for the first time NRIs are not welcome,” says Palwinder Singh Sidhu, a resident of Ludhiana in Punjab.
Author and columnist Ashutosh Muglikar says NRIs should have been kept out of India.
“Foreign return NRI’s are spreading the disease far and wide. Jumping quarantine, abusing medical staff and throwing tantrums. I can’t believe I am saying this about our fellow Indians, but truly they should have been kept outside India itself. Most are now going to villages,” Mr Mugalikar tweeted.
India has registered 11 deaths due to coronavirus, while the number of positive cases has crossed 600.
Globally over 20,000 people have lost their lives to this pandemic, and more than 451,000 people are infected.
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