By Tony Winterburn • 30 March 2020 • 14:32
THE Spanish national was a 38-year-old chef from Barcelona who went to Indian to check first-hand the progress of ‘NGO Unstoppable,’ a fund he set up to help poor children who could not afford to go to school.
Manuel de Luca, a 38-year-old chef from Barcelona, arrived in India on January 17 to check the operation of the NGO Unstoppable, and along with 60 other foreign tourists found India initially warm and welcome. However with the news of the Coronavirus sweeping the country things soon changed to be sour.
The school was in Bodh Gaya, in the northeast of the country situated in a paradisiacal archipelago in the middle of the Indian Ocean, already close to Thailand, the Andaman and Nicobar islands.
“A kind of Canary Islands, but with a large extension of a nature reserve in which tribes still live shooting with arrows at outsiders, completely isolated from the rest of the world,” he summarised by phone.
However, on the night of the 18th, the owner of the inn where he was staying made him leave his room with other tourists and were met at reception by a group of armed policemen, with ‘very bad manners,’ then summoned to leave the island in a boat that was leaving that same morning.
“No papers, no documents, nothing: all to taxis and all to the ship,” he recalls. “They had been taking tourists out of hotels on all the islands and they gathered us on that boat that took us to the main island, Port Blair, and from there directly to the airport, always escorted by the police. They pushed us armed with submachine guns and sticks and told us “move !, move !, like stinking cattle,” says De Luca, who recorded the moment in a video.
At Port Blair airport they were forced to buy a plane ticket “to Calcutta or Chennai,” which was leaving an hour later. “While we were waiting in line we had to put up with airport cleaning staff spraying like window cleaners,” he recalls.
Finally, and after speaking with the Consulate General of Spain, they decided to go to Chennai, because there were fewer cases of Covid-19 than in Calcutta.
“The consulate advised Calcutta because there were more people and perhaps more flights to leave, but almost the entire group opted for Chennai,” explains De Luca. Since this article there has been no more contact with Manuel de Luca, we will continue to scour the news feeds for more information, so please check back daily for updates on this story.
Watch the video below of Police violence in India. Courtesy: Halida News
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