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Over 180 Indians to fly home today from UAE for free Filed on June 29, 2020 | Last updated on June 29, 2020 at 02.05 pm
coronavirus, covid-19, charter flight, Jamia Markaz

(Supplied photo)

The special flight from Ras Al Khaimah to Kozhikode has been organised by Jamia Markaz.

More than 180 distressed Keralite expats in the UAE will fly home for free today thanks to a generous initiative by Jamia Markaz, an Islamic organisation based in the South Indian state.

The charter flight to Kozhikode will take off from Ras Al Khaimah at 2.30pm, said office bearers of Markaz.

The initiative is based on special instructions from the Grand Mufti of India Sheikh Abubaker Ahmed, who is also the chancellor of Jamia Markez.

"We wanted to offer a helping hand to Indian expats who are affected by coronavirus. There are many people who cannot afford tickets on repatriation flights. Hence, we decided to charter an entire flight for free," Dr Abdul Salam Saquafi, Public Relations Manager of Markaz, told Khaleej Times.

"We received over a thousand applications and each one was carefully vetted to ensure that only deserving people secured seats. There are pregnant women, residents who lost jobs, distressed families and sick people on board," he added.

Deeksha Mahesh and her brother Manikandan are among the beneficiaries of the free flight. "Both of us came here on visit visa and got stuck. We could not find jobs because of the Covid-29 situation. My husband is on a 30 per cent pay cut and it was impossible for us to afford tickets," said Mahesh. "We are happy we can finally fly home," she said.

Mehmoud Kundappan, 61, a heart patient, said he lost his job in a cafeteria in Dubai a few months ago, and could not cough up the ticket money for the Vande Bharat flights organised by the government of India.

"I am grateful to Markaz that I can finally return to Kerala," said Kundappan, a Dubai resident for 33 years.

Markaz has already organised 10 charter flights to different parts of India including Cochin, Kannur, Calicut and Delhi. It has also offered more than 156 free tickets to distressed expats, said Muneer Mohiyadeen, Media and Communications Manager.

"We have plans to organise charter flights to Hyderabad and Chennai too. But the idea of organising an all-sponsored flight dawned on us because of the huge demand," said Mohiyadeen.

Anjana Sankar

Anjana Sankar is a journalist by profession and a humanist by passion. Her cluttered desk is not indicative of her state of mind.

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