As many as 480 Indian medical students, who were stranded in Russia due to the coronavirus- induced restrictions, arrived in Mumbai by a private chartered flight on Monday.
Some of the students who came back thanked Maharashtra minister Aaditya Thackeray for the help in facilitating their return.
Shiv Sena's Mumbai-South MP Arvind Sawant told PTI that he advised students who contacted him to tweet to Thackeray for help since he is a cabinet minister and holds charge of the protocol department.
The students, who returned by the Royal Flight from Russia on Monday, included 470 from Maharashtra, four from the Union Territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli, four from Madhya Pradesh and two from Goa.
"Each student contributed 400 dollars, (around Rs 30,000) for the journey," said Nikesh Ranjan of Delhi-based Nixtour online ticketing company which arranged the flight.
Thackeray helped in coordinating with the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), the state government and the Indian embassy for the return of these students, he said.
There were nearly 800 students from the state in Russia and everyone could not return by flights arranged by the government under the 'Vande Bharat Mission'.
"Some of the students in Russia heard about our evacuation of students from Ukraine and contacted me. I also emailed Aaditya Thackeray and tweeted about the chartered flight and he cooperated," Ranjan said.
"I submitted the proposal to him on July 7 and the students are back home now," he said.
Ranjan said his company also facilitated a chartered flight from Russia to Cochin on July 8. A flight is scheduled to arrive in Bengaluru on Monday, another one is scheduled for Delhi on July 15, and one will land in Chennai on July 18.
"There are nearly 3,000 Indian students stranded in Russia and they all will be back by this month-end. We collect the money from students and pay to the airline," he said.
Danish Mistry, a medical student who returned to Mumbai on Monday by the flight, said they tried for return by the Vande Bharat flight, but it did not work out.
"Shiv Sena leader Arvind Sawant advised us to tweet to Aaditya Thackeray for help in evacuation from Russia.
Thackeray immediately responded to our request," Mistry said.
Another student Sneha Singh it was a difficult three- month period for them and they we were trying to go back home, but no flights were available. She thanked Thackeray and the ticketing company for the help.
Sainath Durge, member of the Yuva Sena's core committee said Nixtour emailed Aaditya Thackeray for help in getting permission for the private chartered flight, and the latter pursued the matter with the MEA and the state government.