Indians in UAE wonder how the influential are getting seats when many deserving Indians are waiting on the streets
A senior National Medical Centre (NMC) Healthcare official, his family, and a domestic worker in their employ, have fled the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in a Vande Bharat Mission evacuation flight meant for distressed Indians on May 07 from Abu Dhabi to Kochi.
According to IX 452 passenger manifest in possession with The Lede, Suresh Krishnamoorthy, the Chief Financial Officer of NMC, was on seat 16B, while his family members – wife, twin children and elder son – and his domestic worker were allotted other adjacent seats.
The tickets were booked under PNR number DDUBEV.
Founded by BR Shetty in 1975, the London-listed NMC is now facing an investigation for $6 billion fraud, in the UAE. Shetty resigned and had fled UAE to India.
Talking to The Lede, an Indian in the UAE expressed his surprise on how the rich and influential are getting seats when the needy and deserving are waiting on the streets.
“Many Indians are still waiting anxiously to fly home. There are heart patients, aged ones, pregnant women, and those who lost their jobs too. But how Krishnamoorthy and his entire family got seats in the first flight?” Manohar M, asked.
The repatriation flights were meant for those who suffered job losses and no longer have the funds to remain in the UAE, those on visit visas and need to return, sick, the aged, the very young, and pregnant women.
Ashraf Thamarasery, a social worker in the UAE and Pravasi Bharatiya Award winner, had posted on his Facebook page on May 08 that reportedly many Indians who did not fall into the priority categories got seats in the final travel list.
“Only a few who flew from the UAE were deserving ones. Wondering how others got into the list,” Ashraf, who has been active in repatriating bodies from UAE, posted.
“A dead body of a 12-year-old Indian child was sent in a cargo flight during the lockdown and the parents remained here. They were not considered in the first flight list. However, undeserved people have found seats,” his post read.
When repatriation talks were initiated, NORKA, a Kerala government’s non-resident Keralite welfare body, had opened an online platform for repatriation registration.
In a few days itself, some four lakh Keralites residing and working outside India had registered to express their willingness to return. And out of that, some 61,000 were those who had lost their jobs.
A Keralite in Abu Dhabi told The Lede that the embassy is least transparent in the Vande Bharath Mission.
“Many pregnant women are waiting here to get into the list and fly out. I know a family. The boy has lost his job due to COVID-19 led economy crisis. The girl is pregnant and has some complications too. They had registered. But have not got a seat in the first list. She is running pillar to post to get their name listed,” the Keralite said while adding that he doubts whether the embassy is doing favours for influential people.
Even though The Lede had written to the Indian Embassy in the UAE and Ministry of External Affairs, a response has not yet arrived at the time of publication. This report will be updated as and when responses arrive.
Meanwhile, a source in NMC told The Lede that Krishnamoorthy would have fled UAE to avoid troubles.
“Krishnamoorthy was CFO in 2016. He stepped down when the new CEO came. But again, this February, he was reinstated as CFO. He is not facing any charges from the UAE government. But he may be afraid that he will also be questioned,” the source said.
“All the senior officials, some 30, left the UAE in February one by one. The company was left with no one to lead the company. And we saw Krishnamoorthy coming back again,” the source added.
Following the $6 billion financial debacle, in February, Shetty himself had resigned as a director and joint non-executive chairman of NMC and had fled to India from the UAE.
And in April, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, which has the largest exposure of $810 million to NMC Healthcare, has filed a criminal complaint, alleging "fraud and forgery" against six people, including Shetty, and former CEO Prasanth Manghat, linked to the embattled group.
Last month, Shetty admitted serious fraud and blamed his aides after a 'forensic probe'. Shetty's revelations came as the Central Bank of the UAE advised banks to freeze Shetty's accounts as well as that of his family and several other people.
The Lede has sought an official comment from NMC on Krishnamoorthy getting a seat in evacuation flight. The story will be updated if and when we get a response.
Meanwhile, an Indian in Qatar said that passengers who came to board flight to Thiruvananthapuram had to return as Air India had to cancel its flight.
“Passengers were told by Doha airport officials that the Indian flight has not come and it is cancelled,” Mujeeb R, said.
The flight was expected to bring home 181 persons from Qatar, including 15 pregnant women, as part of India's Vande Bharat mission to bring back stranded Indians from abroad.
In Kerala, Thiruvanathapuram District Collector Gopalakrishnan said the flight did not get permission to land at the Doha airport.
"The flight has been rescheduled to Tuesday. Timing will be confirmed later," he told reporters.
The flight was scheduled to take off from Doha at 6:30 pm India time and land at Thiruvananthapuram at 10.30 pm.
Vande Bharat Mission, which started on May 07 to bring back stranded Indians home from other countries, will start the second phase of its operation from May 16.
According to sources in the Ministry of External Affairs, the second phase of Vande Bharat Mission will bring almost 25,000 Indians from 28 countries and the government will operate over 100 flights to complete the mission.