US citizen stranded in Dubai given 'exceptional entry' to India to attend dad's funeral

Dubai - Authorities make exceptions following the death of father of American national of Indian origin.

by Dhanusha Gokulan

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Published: Wed 27 Jan 2021, 11:15 AM

Last updated: Wed 27 Jan 2021, 11:18 AM

An American national of Indian origin, who was transiting via Dubai International Airport (DXB), to attend his father’s funeral back home, was granted an exceptional entry to India because of the tragic circumstances amid the raging novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak.

However, Naresh Ram, a US resident since 1996, was left stranded at DXB for over 48 hours.

Ram had left his home in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, immediately after he learnt of his father’s death at night last Thursday.

He reached DXB the following day since he wasn’t allowed to board the Bengaluru-bound flight because of the restrictions.

Rules stipulate that foreign nationals such as Ram and tourist visa-holders aren’t allowed entry into India because of the country’s stringent Covid-19 protocols.

At present, only Indian nationals, Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) cardholders, and Person of Indian Origin (PIO) cardholders are allowed entry to the country.

Ram, who didn’t tick any of these boxes, had applied for a tourist visa prior to his departure from New York. But the Indian consulate in New York didn’t give approval for a tourist visa.

Ram went ahead with his trip since US nationals don’t need a visa to enter Dubai or any other emirates in the UAE.

The Consulate General of India in Dubai considered Ram’s case on humanitarian grounds and swung into action.

Ram flew to Bengaluru on Monday morning on the same Emirates Airlines' ticket after being stranded for over 48 hours.

Ram, an employee of a pharmaceutical company in the US, told Khaleej Times, “My father was 81-years-old. He died due to cardiac failure. Since I’m his only son, I had to fly down to India to complete his last rites as per our customs.”

Earlier, Ram had to travel around 150 kilometres (km) away from his home in Philadelphia to get a PCR test done and got the result within five hours. DXB authorities are insisting on a negative test report for all incoming passengers.

A Consulate official told Khaleej Times: “We always support people who get stranded in situations like that of Mr Ram. We’ve even provided emergency travel documents to Indian citizens who get stranded at airports. Our officers travel to an airport to personally hand over travel documents to them. This was an extraordinary case. Our doors are always open for those who are in distress.”

Ram’s friend Mohammed Arif, an Abu Dhabi resident, who liaised with the Consulate authorities, said, “When Ram left from New York, he was not aware of the new protocols. The Consulate officials were extremely compassionate. They even opened the BLS Centre after the closing hours to facilitate his visa procedures. They provided incredible help when it was most needed.”

Ram said: “I want to thank the Consulate authorities for their good turn. They’ve gone out of their way to ensure I could reach Bengaluru.”

He added: “We’re living in unprecedented hard times. I believe India needs to create more awareness about its entry protocols. Besides, I didn’t have the luxury of time to check entry rules to India.”

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Dhanusha Gokulan
Dhanusha Gokulan

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