Volunteers ferry, house Indian nationals stranded in KLIA2 after border closed

Yiswaree Palansamy
Dinesh (centre) expressed his gratitude to Malaysians who lent a helping hand to the stranded Indian nationals during their hour of need. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

KUALA LUMPUR, March 23 — Several lawyers and volunteers lent a hand to 300 Indian nationals who were starving and stranded at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA2) yesterday following the closure of Indian borders due to Covid-19.

Speaking to Malay Mail, lawyer Dinesh Muthal said the volunteers connected several donors to help the crowd, including two gurdwaras in Puchong and Subang, who sent in food and basic needs.

“More than 300 Indian citizens were stranded in KLIA2 airport and were unable to return to their country due to India’s restrictions at the moment, to not allow any international flights into their airports due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“My friends Umagandhan Krishnan and Poovan Chandrika went to check out the situation first. These Indian citizens made up mostly of women and children were in the airport for almost four days, not knowing their fate and lacking basic necessities.

Other volunteers included lawyers Mehnagha Letchumanan, Low Tze Ken, Thenish Chandra, and social activist Rakvinder Kaur Sadi Singh.

Some of the NGOs which have aided them are Pertubuhan Perpaduan Puratchi Malaysia, Persatuan Kecemasan Sukarelawan Malaysia, Klinik Kiran, Malaysian Telugu Foundation, the Sikh Council.

Hana Welfare Association, Mercy Malaysia and the Rotary Club of Subang also joined in when the plea for help was made, by providing items including hand sanitisers.

Mehnagha also drafted and sent a letter to the Indian government, requesting for them to send a humanitarian flight to fly their citizens back home, and highlighted their dire conditions.

Meanwhile, local entertainment company Malik Streams Corporation Sdn Bhd provided buses to ferry the stranded Indians out of the airport to temporary accommodations.

“40 of them are staying in Tatt Khalsa Diwan Sabha, 27 more are staying in Puchong Gurdwara, another 20 are at the Telugu Association, five are staying in a hostel and 15 more are at the Indian Embassy building in Lebuh Ampang, which has been made into a makeshift hostel for them.

“The rest are staying with either their families or relatives’ houses in Malaysia and some are staying outside temporarily until they received further news. Some were able to afford hotel stays so they went there,” Dinesh said.

He extended his gratitude to Malaysians who stepped up after the plea for help.

“I am so very proud of everyone. In times of need, we get to witness how true Malaysian hospitality looks like, and show it to the rest of the world,” he added.

Last week, Reuters reported that India suspended the vast majority of visas into the republic in an attempt to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Citing an order from India’s Health Ministry, the report said that millions of foreign nationals of Indian origin, who were traditionally granted visa-free access, would now also need to apply for one.


 

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