"The cities and towns were getting locked down"
A UK Indian student was stuck in India for approximately 50 hours after her China trip as a result of the Coronavirus.
Twenty-year-old Jesal Patel lives in London and is a law student at Brunel University.
She had arrived in India from a locked-down town in China due to the Coronavirus outbreak but remained stranded there due to airport authorities not letting her in.
Despite Jesal testing negative for the virus and providing the necessary documents, the authorities told her to return to China.
Her father Jignesh Patel explained that his daughter had been undertaking an internship with a leading law firm in Shanghai at the time.
He said: “She was living with a Chinese family that were very supportive. When the scare over the virus began, they relocated to Xinjiang, five hours from Shanghai.
“The cities and towns were getting locked down one after another.”
Jesal’s family in London were worried and wanted her back home even though Xinjiang had no confirmed cases of Coronavirus.
Mr Patel went on to say: “I then took to social media, reaching out to all the top officials, reaching out to all the top officials in the UK, seeking her safe evacuation from China.
“When it did not work, my family came out in support and booked her a ticket from Shanghai, which was not locked down yet, to Delhi – which was available earlier than the one for London.”
He added that Jesal and his family have Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) cards.
On February 4, 2020, the UK Indian student ended up taking a five-hour taxi journey to Shanghai which was more expensive than a flight.
Mr Patel said:
“She was subjected to multiple tests where she tested negative for the virus.”
“She boarded a flight from Shanghai to Delhi on the same afternoon and landed at the airport at night.
“She was told at the airport that she will have to go back to Shanghai due to new directives of not allowing any foreign national travelling from China.”
At the airport, Jesal argued that she is a PIO cardholder but the authorities refused her request. Jesal then refused to board a flight back and instead told the authorities to arrest her.
Mr Patel’s appeal on social media attracted attention with her friends asking for help.
One user pointed out that Jesal has relatives in India and requested help so that she could go and stay with them.
This is a British Indian origin girl, holding a valid OCI. She has also tested negative for Coronavirus. She chose to come to India from China, instead of London, because she has grandparents and extended family living there. Pls help. @DrSJaishankar @DelhiAirport @HCI_London https://t.co/pNnr7h8nSe pic.twitter.com/Jzn2gdH0CB
— Manu Khajuria ?? (@KhajuriaManu) February 5, 2020
Following Jesal’s constant requests and social media attention, the authorities allowed her to travel to Ahmedabad to stay with her uncle.
Mr Patel said: “The authorities finally paid heed to her constant requests and allowed her to take a flight to Ahmedabad. She landed in Ahmedabad on Thursday evening.”