Hurt, anger and disappointment were among the raw emotions voiced in the Indian community as the government wrestles with the reaction against its ban on Australian citizens returning from India.
"This is the first time for Australian people to be stopped coming back to their own country," Jay Patel who owns the Desi Bazzar in Gungahlin said.
"The harsh part is that they have shut down to their own own citizens," Avimash Brahmbatt who was in the store said.
It was a fundamental duty of a country to look after its citizens, he said.
Many Australian citizens with Indian backgrounds had striven hard to make a success of their lives, he said, and benefitted the community.
"We have legally gone through the immigration process which was getting tougher day by day.
"We crossed these hurdles because we wanted to become Australian.
"We want to be part of the community and contribute to the economy. The Indian community is the most hard-working community."
Former Liberal candidate in the ACT Assembly elections, Jacob Vadakkedathu, said he was being inundated with messages from people in the community who are distraught at the ban and at the pain of separation from their families in India. He knew people who weren't able to go to the funerals of parents.
The ban and the criminal penalties, including jail for anybody breaching it, were "ridiculous", he said.
"The community is really, really concerned and worried. This harsh penalty of five years imprisonment or $66,000 fine - that's way over the top," Mr Vadakkedathu said.
"It doesn't embody the values of Australia, values of tolerance, of freedom and respect for the individual and dignity, the spirit of egalitarianism, fair play and compassion for those people who are in need."
He said the Liberal government - formed by the party of which he is a member - had done many good things, particularly dealing with the epidemic before the vaccines arrived, but this ban had to be rethought.
As anger mounted in Australia over the ban and its penalties, Australian citizens in India voiced their pain to The Canberra Times.
Lavanya Thiruvali Sunderarajan, her husband and son and daughter went to India to be closer to her parents. She then contracted Covid and feels she may have given it to her father who then died.
The family is now unable to come home to Australia and that is hurting the two children, daughter Anki who is 16 and son, Ashkay who is 12.
The children have both been educated in Australian schools and are now denied the continuation of that education.
"The kids don't have friends here. All their friends are in Australia. They want to be back in Australia," the mother said.
She is torn because her widowed mother needs help while her children need their Australian education.
Apart from anger and sadness within the Indian community, efforts are also being made to raise funds to help the Indian healthcare system cope. A barbecue is being held on Sunday in Gunghalin town centre.
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