The evacuation of 29 Indians after being stranded in the war-torn Libya sparked off a fresh controversy as the External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and the Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy getting into war of words while claiming credit for the rescue operation.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj took to the twitter to take on Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy who said the state has not received any assistance from the central government for the evacuation. Swaraj wanted Chandy to clarify who paid for the thousands of Keralans who were evacuated from the strife-torn Iraq, Libya and Yemen.
Questioning Chandy’s claim that the state government paid for the evacuation, Swaraj said it was the central government which paid for the repatriation.
Swaraj also claimed that she was the one who came forward in the midnight, when an Indian who escaped from the terrorist attack who needed assistance.
“Yes 3.34 am – because that’s the time Sister Sally who escaped the terrorist attack in Aden was evacuated from Yemen,” She wrote.
Earlier, Chandy had said that he has not received any assistance from the Centre to evacuate Malayalees who were working in Libya for past few years.
The 29 Indians including six families from Kerala arrived at Kochi International Airport today. They arrived in two flights around 8:30 in the morning. The airport premises witnessed many emotional scenes as dozens of relatives of the evacuated ones had flocked the airport to welcome them.
Upon meeting media persons, they said neither state nor central government helped them to return to Kerala. They also said that both Chandy and Swaraj, turned a blind eye, even after several attempts were made to reach out to them. They have also said that they themselves paid for the airfare to return home.
“Mr.Chandy – You started this debate – as to Who paid ? Not me. We always did this because this is our pious duty towards our citizens,” Swaraj wrote on Twtter.
Meantime, the government officials said that they could not pay the money due to some technical reasons and the amount will be reimbursed in the near future.
The Indians working in Libya were asked to leave the country after the war intensified in Sabrath city, where most of the Indians are working. Last month, an Indian nurse and her infant were killed in a shell attack in Zawiya Hospital in Sabratha.
Prime minster Narendra Modi had said during an election campaign in Kerala that the centre has left no stone un-turned to bring the stranded Malayali workers in Libya back to the country .