A dream vacation gifted by their children turned into a nightmare for this senior citizen couple who at present are stranded in Mumbai due to the lockdown. Naseem Rajani, 60, and her husband Ali Rajani, 65, have been trying to reach their hometown, Yavatmal (700 kms from Mumbai) in Maharashtra, since a week. Despite carrying all required papers and permissions from the hospitals and authorities they have been made to return twice after reaching midway.
The Rajanis had left for Singapore on 13 March on a two-week long vacation. This was supposed to be a surprise gift from their daughter and son who reside in the USA.
“After reaching Singapore, everything was fine for three days. But on 18th we came to know that the Indian government has cancelled all international flights and we were asked to go back. We got a flight booked for the next day to Chennai, but even that was cancelled. There were other Indian passengers who were stranded at the airport just like us. We did not know what was going to happen to us,” says Naseem.
She further says, “Somehow we got the contact of a person working in the Indian embassy and we pleaded to him for help. He told us that we could go back to India, and Air India had started to rescue passengers stuck abroad. Two days later, we and sixty other people were put on a flight back to Mumbai. On landing at the Mumbai international airport, we and two other families were taken to Seven Hills hospital for a COVID-19 test. They kept us there for four days, and discharged us on 28th March. We wanted to go back home (to Yavatmal) but we knew that it was difficult to do so in such a scenario. The hospital couldn’t keep us as they are already short of beds. We did not know where to go and were left homeless.”
Ali Rajani who is a small time trader in Yavatmal got in touch with local social workers, who got him and his wife lodged in a small hotel in Andheri itself.
Arranging an accommodation was of priority for the couple. After that we got permission from the hospital, and arranged a cab for them to travel to Yavatmal. On the day of travel, the hospital cancelled the permission and said that they cannot travel in a private cab and only hospital vehicles could take them home. We agreed to this. On 29 March, they left for Yavatmal but were soon stopped at Kharegaon toll plaza. They were asked to return back to Mumbai. After much effort and convincing they were allowed to proceed with the journey. Again they were halted at Igatpuri. But this time, they had to return as the authorities would not budge. Despite all papers in place they had to return to Mumbai,” said Mack Ajani, NRI cell president (BJP), who is trying to help the couple.
Since that day, they have been stuck in Mumbai without any aid. The hotel staff has asked them to vacate the room as they have been occupying it for over a week now. “We have appealed to the cops to provide them with special permission to travel and are waiting for their response,” said Ajani.
“We have been out of our house for more than 20 days now. We were just looking forward to a good vacation after so many years, but never thought it would turn into a disaster. We just want to go home. Please take us home,” is Naseem and Ali’s final appeal.