Over 300 Indians stranded in Qatar due to the coronavirus-induced restrictions have returned in two chartered flights to Nagpur and Mumbai.
These flights were not part of the government's 'Vande Bharat Mission', but were arranged by representatives of the Indian Cultural Centre in Doha, an apex body of Indian expatriates there, and the Maharashtra Mandal in Qatar, a community organisation.
One of these flights carrying 172 passengers arrived in Nagpur on Friday and the other with 165 Indians onboard landed in Mumbai on Saturday, Indian Cultural Centre's vice president Vinod Nair told PTI.
The passengers in the Nagpur-bound flight included 86 from Chhattisgarh, 34 from Madhya Pradesh and 52 from the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra. They paid Rs 24,000 each as the ticket fare, he said.
Passengers of the Mumbai-bound flight paid Rs 20,000 each for their return, he said.
Nair said a number Indians in Qatar wanted to go back home. "We coordinated with the Indian Embassy and IndiGo airlines to facilitate their return. The Maharashtra Mandal in Qatar arranged for their ticket fare collection and other documentation formalities," he said.
Nair claimed he and some members of the Maharashtra Mandal in Qatar also contributed from their own pockets to facilitate the return of these stranded passengers.
He said another chartered flight carrying 169 passengers will leave from Qatar for Goa on Monday.
Madhusudhan Ekre, one of the passengers who returned in the chartered flight to Nagpur, told PTI that he had gone to Qatar March 4 on a business visa and got stranded there.
Through social media, he came to know about the Maharashtra Mandal in Qatar arranging chartered flights for helping the stranded Indians.
Ekre thanked Nair and Nilambari Savardekar, president of the Maharashtra Mandal in Qatar, for helping them return home.