Aussie’s plea after brother’s India death

A western Sydney man whose brother became the third Australian to die of COVID-19 in India has made an impassioned plea for the federal government help to bring his elderly father to Australia.

Sunil Khanna, 51, an Australian citizen from Harris Park in Sydney’s west, died in hospital in New Delhi late in April, a few days after testing positive for the virus.

Mr Khanna’s mother, an Indian national, also died from COVID-19 in New Delhi.

Before he died, Mr Khanna had been living in India looking after his elderly parents and was attempting to fly home shortly after the sub-continent was crippled by the world’s worst outbreak.

But flights from India were suspended temporarily. The first Qantas repatriation flight after the ban touched down in Darwin on Saturday with just 80 Australians on board.

Now the family’s 83-year-old father, who also tested positive but recovered, remains in New Delhi alone.

That prompted their Australian son, Sanjay Khanna, to make an emotional plea from Sydney for government assistance to bring his father to Australia while speaking on the Today show.

“Within four days, my whole life has been turned up side down,” Mr Khanna said.

“First my brother, then my mother, within 24 hours (they) passed away from this infection and my dad has just now recovered.

“He is alone. He is my last surviving member in the family. I‘m just making a plea through your media to help me to get my father home before it’s too late for him. He is an 83-year-old man alone by himself. Nobody else to help him is there.”

Mr Khanna’s efforts are being aided by Sanjay Deshwal, a Sydney migration agent and president of Little India Harris Park Business Association.

Mr Deshwal said he had spoken to the federal minister for immigration, Alex Hawke, and the New South Wales minister for multiculturalism, Geoff Lee, about the case in an attempt to secure an exemption for Mr Khanna’s father to enter Australia.

“We are talking to the Department of Home Affairs minister and we are trying to find a way so the travel exemption can be granted to him because he is an Indian citizen and, at present, no Indian citizens are allowed here on any kind of visa,” Mr Deshwal said. “We are pushing the application through.”

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