Boris Johnson hospitalisation leads to prayers from diaspora, but stranded students grow more worried – Times of India


LONDON: The hospitalisation of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson with Covid-19 has led to thousands of PIOs offering prayers for him on social media, but it has intensified worry amongst Indian students stranded in the UK owing to the lockdown in India.
Nandini Singh (49), from UP, a social media consultant for diaspora group Reach India, is meeting other PIOs on Zoom to chant mantras for Johnson.
On Tuesday night dozens planned to join one of the Zoom calls to chant Hanuman bhajans for the UK PM. “All the Indians here are shocked. Many are so disturbed he was taken to ICU they could not sleep. He is like family. The Indian diaspora overwhelmingly voted for the Tories at the last election under his leadership. He has a lot of charisma and positivity,” she said.
Yogesh Patel, spokesman for the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Neasden, said temple priests had added prayers for Johnson and his pregnant partner, Carrie, to the daily communal prayers being live-streamed each night from the temple. “He has visited Neasden temple a number of times and he came with his partner just before the election, and people have very fond memories of both of them,” he said.
But for the 8,000 to 10,000 Indian students stranded in Britain owing to a temporary ban on inbound international flights in India, Johnson’s admission to the ICU of St Thomas’ Hospital has intensified their distress.
“If Boris is not safe, then how can we be? We want to be back with our loved ones. We have run out of money and are running out of food,” said Habeeb Mustafa Mohammed (24) of Hyderabad, who was not allowed to board his flight home on March 28.
Another student, Suleh Trivedi (24), from Ahmedabad, who was not allowed to board his flight on March 21, said: “I am alone without family or friends. If the British PM, with all his security and self-isolation, has corona, what about us? The Indian government should evacuate us.”
Sanam Arora, chairperson of the National Indian Students & Alumni Union UK, said: “The panic from stranded Indian students has increased ever since Boris was hospitalised, combined with a looming sense the Indian lockdown will not be lifted on April 14th. The students feel that at the moment India is in a better place than the UK as the number of cases is lower.”


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