Operation Sankat Mochan: 156 Indians evacuated from South Sudan
Carrying Indians who were left stranded in the war-torn South Sudan, an Indian Air Force C-17 aircraft landed in New Delhi at 10 am on Friday.
The aircraft had halted in Thiruvananthapuram at 5 am, where 58 of those evacuated got off.
There were 46 Keralites among those rescued.
Two Nepalese nationals, seven women and three children were also there among those relieved.
A total of 156 Indians were evacuated in two C 17 Globemaster flights of the Indian Air Force.
The Kerala government has made special arrangements for the onward journey of the persons belonging to other southern states who landed in the state capital early in the morning.
The evacuation of Indians from the African country was part of the ‘Operation Sankat Mochan’ initiated by the Indian government and was led by Minister of State for External Affairs V.K. Singh.
Speaking to reporters at Thiruvananthapuram airport, Singh said two aircraft were involved in the evacuation operation.
“Over 300 Indians will continue to stay in South Sudan for their business interests. About 150 Indians work in the oil wells, and for them it’s easier to go towards Sudan where there are not much issues,” Singh said.
“While I was there, I spoke to the Vice President of South Sudan and he told me what they are doing with regard to the safety of the people there,” added Singh.
Earlier, Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj had requested Indians who stay in South Sudan, through a series of tweets, to come back to the country before the situation gets worsened.
Indian nationals – Pls move out of South Sudan. We hv sent two aircrafts. If situation deteriorates, we will not be able to evacuate u.Pl RT
— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) July 14, 2016
Anil Kumar, one of those who returned in Thiruvananthapuram, told reporters that firing had intensified in South Sudan early this week.
“For almost five days there was heavy firing and it was then that we decided to return. Yesterday it was a quiet day, that made our movement to the airport easy,” said Anil Kumar.
Another relieved Keralite said that it was pretty scary in South Sudan where clashes between rival factions have broken out.
“Right in front of our gate one person was shot dead and many of us thought that we will never see our homeland again. There was heavy firing and for four days we were inside our home, without coming out even once,” said another relieved Keralite.
“We are thankful to the government and the Indian embassy there which rose to the occasion and acted. The present situation is due to the differences of opinion that have broken out between two tribes in Sudan. If things are back to normal there, I wish to return,” said another Keralite.