Family & Pets
"I want my baby back:" Aussie Mum flies to COVID hotspot to rescue stranded toddler
A Melbourne mother is on a mission to get out of Australia to be reunited with her 20-month-old daughter.
While hundreds of Australians await stranded in India pleading to return home, Swetha Maram is going the other way.
"I am feeling so happy," Ms Maram explainer to the ABC, while she waited to board her flight.
"I want my baby, to hold her in my hands. It's been more than five months now."
Ms Maram took her daughter Naomika to India in January so she could spend some time with her grandparents there.
She returned to Australia for work and had planned to head back to Bangalore to collect her daughter.
However in March, India closed their borders which left her baby girl stranded in another country away from her mother.
"We requested the Government to approve any one of my family members to get my baby back to Australia. But they didn't agree to that," she said.
While India reopened their borders after reporting a surge of only 1000 cases, they were forced to close again after 20,000 cases reported in just a week.
While Ms Maram is allowed to return to India, there will be no way home in the foreseeable future.
She says she is leaving behind her husband and son in Australia while she goes to rescue Naomika.
"I'm facing a difficult situation of not having my wife with me. I'm a bit worried and scared," her husband Sunil Maram said.
"I'm very much concerned about the number of increasing infections in India. I don't know when it's going to come to an end."
The flight Ms Maram boarded to Bangalore is not an official repatriation flight and is one of two charter flights that is helping some of the 6,000 Indians who became stranded in Australia when the pandemic restrictions occurred.
Arun Sharma, one of the flight organisers, says some of the passengers had been in Australia for a variety of reasons and were caught off guard by India's sudden lockdown.
"Tourism, education, meeting their families. Unfortunately they got stuck. Some of them have very emotional stories," Mr Sharma said.