Helped by a group of law school graduates and generous donors, 179 stranded migrant workers, including women and children, were airlifted from Bengaluru to Chhattisgarh's capital Raipur on Thursday in a chartered flight.
The air travel was arranged by the alumni of the Bengaluru-based National Law School of India University (NLSIU) and a few generous donors.
It was the latest in a series of such flights arranged by well-meaning individuals to ferry migrant workers stranded in various parts of the country due to the coronavirus- enforced lockdown and provide them hassle-free travel.
The IndiGo flight carrying 179 migrants, including women and children, took off from the Kempegowda International Airport in Bengaluru around 8 am and landed at the Swami Vivekanand Airport in Raipur around 10 am, a Raipur airport official told PTI.
A few civil society organisations in Chhattisgarh decided to bring back by flight over 350 migrant workers from Karnataka and contacted alumni of the NLSIU and National Academy of Legal Studies and Research (NALSAR), Hyderabad, said Vinaysheel, who coordinated the effort.
Alumni of the NLSUI paid for air travel of 179 passengers who landed in Raipur on Thursday while the travel cost of other 174 migrants, scheduled to land here from Bengaluru on June 5, was being footed by alumni of NALSAR, he said.
The flight was sponsored by Ajay Bahl, the managing partner of a leading law firm, whereas the NLS Alumni team liaised with the Chhattisgarh government to ensure that the workers could reach their homes from Raipur, said Vijay Grover, a journalist who has been working for the cause of migrant workers stranded in Karnataka.
The check-in process for the flight was carried out around midnight, Grover told PTI.
He said that former students of the National Law School of India under their initiative 'Mission Aahan Vaahan', with contributions from within the alumni network as well as sponsorship from generous donors, ferried more than 500 stranded workers by chartered flights to Jharkhand and Odisha from Mumbai since May 28.
"This is the first flight out of Bengaluru under Mission Aahan Vahaan and the initiative has been managed primarily by some NLS Alumni members who are based in Bengaluru," Grover said.
Coming out of the Raipur airport, migrants looked relaxed and happy. For almost all of them, it was their first experience of air travel.
"I am happy to have come back safely. I am thankful to all those who helped us return," said Rajni Chandra (28) who was carrying her two-year-old child in her arms.
Chandra, who worked as a labourer at a construction site in Karnataka, was stuck there after lockdown was imposed in March to contain coronavirus.
She was a bit jittery as she was traveling by aircraft for the first time, but the journey will remain etched in her memory forever, she said.
The Raipur district administration made arrangement for medical screening of arriving migrants at the airport and provided buses to ferry them to their respective districts, said a local official.
The passengers will be quarantined after they reach their home districts, he said.