Vande Bharat: Over 3 lakh register in Gulf to return home
New Delhi, May 06: Over 3 lakh Indians have registered in Gulf countries for being evacuated by the Indian government. India is launching its biggest evacuation mission called the Vande Bharat Mission to bring back Indians stranded in the Gulf and other countries.
The exercise would involve civilian aircraft and naval ships. However, those holding Overseas Indian Cards will not be brought back home. This operation is only for Indians, the government official confirmed to OneIndia.
"Commenced preparations for Vande Bharat Mission. Planning underway for stranded Indian nationals to return home starting May 7. Urge them to keep in regular touch with their embassies," External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said. He also said that the government was coordinating arrival arrangements with state governments. We are confident that our collective effort would make this a success, he also said.
There are around 1.4 crore Indians staying in different countries and most of them want to return home. The government is however yet to give an estimate on how Indians it is planning on evacuating.
Meanwhile, India has dispatched two navy ships to Maldives and two to UAE for evacuation of Indian citizens.
The Navy ships have been deployed as part of Operation Samudra Setu (Sea Bridge) to repatriate Indian citizens stranded abroad. Meanwhile, the first phase of the multi-agency operation called Vande Bharat Mission will see Air India operate 64 non-scheduled commercial flights from May 7 to 14 to bring back around 15,000 Indian nationals from 12 countries.
INS Jalashwa and INS Nagar are en route to the Maldives to commence the first phase of the operations, the Indian Navy has said. A total of 1,000 people will be evacuated in the first trip in naval ships. The evacuated people will disembark in Kochi, the Navy also said.
The Ministry of Home Affairs said that priority will be given to compelling cases in distress, which would include migrant workers, labourers who have been laid off and those faced with expiry of short term visas.
"As per information available, many Indian Nationals who had travelled to different countries before the lockdown, on various purposes such as employment, studies/ internships, tourism, business, etc, are stranded abroad. Due to their prolonged stay abroad, they are facing distress and are desirous of returning to India urgently. Apart from the above cases, there are other Indian Nationals who need to visit India in medical emergencies or death of a family member," the MHA said.