Covid-19: Dubai businessman donates Dh100,000 for India repatriation flight tickets
Dubai - 'Our people from North East were held up in the country and God has given me enough resources to help them'
A Dubai-based businessman has donated Dh100,000 to pay for the tickets of passengers who could not afford their repatriation tickets to India.
Amiruddin Ajmal, head of Ajmal Perfumes, paid for the tickets of 66 of the 171 Indians who flew on a chartered Indigo flight from Dubai to Guwahati on Thursday at 3.30am. The special flight was only the second direct flight from the UAE to Assam in India's North East region, a destination often ignored by many of the repatriation flights.
"Our people from North East were held up in the country where we live and because God has given me enough resources to help them, we decided to step in after we verified the authenticity of the volunteers," said Ajmal, whose family trace its roots back to Assam.
Angam Keishing, a volunteer who along with a group of friends rallied passengers and sponsors for the flight, said: "Our first direct flight from Dubai to Guwahati was a historic one because that region of India is not connected by any commercial flights. But ever since that flight, the number of North East Indians who wished to be repatriated have only grown, so we partnered again with Satguru Travel and Tourism to make our second chartered flight happen."
Among the donors for Thursday's flight was DPS Sharjah Grade 8 student Ananya Srivastava, who opened her piggy bank to pay for two passengers' tickets.
"I was inspired when I heard about the group of volunteers collecting funds to send expats, who do not have the resources, home. I desperately wanted to contribute but with my own effort and not with my parents' money," said the 13-year-old. "I broke my piggy bank and collected my savings of around Dh3,000, which was enough for two tickets."
Sumon Bordoloi, a Dubai-based marketing executive from Assam, said the Indigo flight was a personal mission for him.
"There were so many people losing hope and survival was becoming a challenge for many because they had run out of money," said Bordoloi who, along with other volunteers, pooled in money to fund tickets as well as daily supplies while passengers wait for the flight.
"Many of them have been laid off by their employers, some are on unpaid leave and some were waiting to fly back because of medical urgencies."
Ngayaomi Ruivah, another volunteer, said social workers in North East India also stepped in to make sure the travellers' were taken safely home to their respective states.
"The journey from Guwahati to Imphal in Manipur is 18 hours by road. So Linda Newmai, a Naga social worker based in Delhi, has helped us arrange buses to take the passengers directly from the airport so they don't have to spend money for quarantine," he said.
However, more people are waiting in the UAE to be flown back North East India, said volunteer David Tusing.