Serbia curbs checkmate desi travellers

Serbia curbs checkmate desi travellers


MUMBAI/NEW DELHI: A sudden seven-day quarantine imposed by Serbia for arrivals from India has left the travel plans of scores, including 15-year-old chess player Kabir Wadhawan from the capital, in disarray. Over 200 Indians, a large majority of them students, were stranded at Belgrade airport on Sunday for hours on end till the Indian embassy came to their rescue.
On Sunday night (in India), photographs of the stranded Indians made their way to social media. “Help! There are 300-400 Indian students, citizens stuck with children at Belgrade airport. Everyone has connecting flights to somewhere but the police are asking for seven-day mandatory quarantine. We can’t, all are exhausted and hungry,” tweeted RealNick05.
Later, the embassy said 120 of the stranded Indians managed to leave by Lufthansa. “Indians travelling by other airlines will fly today or tomorrow (Monday-Tuesday). Embassy officials are in touch with airport authorities, airlines to ensure departure of all Indians,’’ it tweeted.
In the past two months, Belgrade had turned into a popular transit halt for Indians going to countries like Canada, US, Saudi Arabia and UAE that had banned direct entry of passengers from India, said Bhushan Kamble of Akbar travels. People travelling from India to Canada, for instance, would stay for three days in Belgrade, take an RT-PCR report as Canada doesn’t accept reports from Indian labs, and continue their journey. However, the transit-in-Belgrade plan collapsed on Friday after Serbia notified the seven-day mandatory quarantine.
While the problem of the over 200 stuck at the airport has been resolved, those who have plans to travel via Belgrade in the immediate future are fretting. Budding chess player Kabir has his first match in Serbia on Saturday (July 17) and accordingly booked tickets to reach Belgrade with his father a day before on Friday (July 16). Now the quarantine means he misses a few matches.
“I was invited to participate in four chess events in different Serbian cities between July 17 and August 12. Just a few days before I was scheduled to leave, fresh quarantine conditions have been imposed. Now, I fear missing at least the first event on July 17,” said Kabir.





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