Repatriation of Indians: First week will see 64 flights bringing back 14,000 people; maximum flights from the gulf to Kerala

WION Web Team
New Delhi, Delhi, IndiaWritten By: Sidhant SibalUpdated: May 05, 2020, 12:17 PM IST

(Image: Air India) File photo of Air India plane. Photograph:(Others)

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Maximum flights will be to Kerala at 15, followed by Tamil Nadu & NCR at 11, Maharashtra and Telangana at 7, Gujarat at 5, Karnataka and J&K at 3 and Punjab and UP at 1.

In the first week of India's massive plan to bring back Indians from abroad, 14,800 will be brought back in 64 flights. The Indian government on Monday announced the repatriation of Indian citizens stranded abroad in phases due to COVID crisis from May 7.

Maximum flights will be to Kerala at 15, followed by Tamil Nadu & NCR at 11, Maharashtra and Telangana at 7, Gujarat at 5, Karnataka and J&K at 3 and Punjab and UP at 1.

Overall 10 flights will come from UAE, which hosts the largest number of Indians globally, many of them blue-collared workers. 7 flights will come each from Bangladesh, UK, Malaysia, US, 5 from Singapore, Philipines, Saudi Arabia, 4 from Kuwait, 2 each from Qatar, Bahrain and Oman. Over All 25 flights, the maximum will come from the Gulf region.  

The first day will see 10 flights, 3 days will see 9 flights, while the last day will see 8 flights, second last day will see 11 flights.

Day one will see 4 flights from gulf-- 2 from UAE, One from Saudi Arabia, One from Qatar, all of which will go to Kerala bringing back 800 people to the state. On the same day flights from the UK, US, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines and Bangladesh will land in Delhi. The number of Indian students from the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir will come from Dhaka on the same day and land in Srinagar. All in all 2300 Indians from 10 countries will reach India on May 7th.

Meanwhile Navy has confirmed that 3 of its ship are on the mission to get back stranded citizens from Maldives and UAE. INS Jalashwa and INS Magar will get back Indians from the Maldives while INS Shardul has been diverted to Dubai to get back the expatriates from the West Asian countries. INS Magar and Shardul are Landing Ship Tanks (LST).

INS Jalashwa Indian Navy's largest Amphibious platform (Landing Platform Dock) can carry 1000 troops. With the current social distancing, norms can carry 500-700 people. 

This is Independent India's largest repatriation mission to bring back its citizens stranded abroad due to COVID-19 pandemic. India will be getting back 1,92,000 people in the first phase of the mammoth exercise with the focus on the Gulf. 

On Monday India's envoy to UAE Pavan Kapoor speaking exclusively to WION said, "I am glad that we are starting this process of repatriation for those who urgently need to return to India. We look forward to working closely with the UAE authorities to make this process as smooth and efficient as we can."

The largest-ever evacuation carried out by India was the 1990 airlift of Indians from Kuwait during the Gulf War in which 170,000 Indian expatriates were from the west Asian country.

In the second phase, India will start facilitating the return of its citizens from Iran, USA, UK and Malaysia. Indian missions across the world are already preparing a list of distressed Indian citizens.

Several missions have opened registration for the stranded Indians.

Sources told WION, "Data collection ongoing in most missions, with some looking at dates for evacuation and making all necessary arrangements accordingly."

 Around 11,000 stranded Indians have registered with Indian mission in Moscow, 1200 in New Zealand, 390 Indian nationals with High Commission of Nairobi, 265 at the Indian mission in Mexico, 2000 at India's mission in Canada and five Indians in Somalia have also registered so that they can get back home. Only asymptomatic passengers would be allowed to travel and Standard Operating Protocol (SOP) for the process had been prepared in this regard.

"State Governments are being advised to make arrangements, including for testing, quarantine and onward movement of the returning Indians in their respective States.", MHA in a statement said.

The facilitation will only be on "compelling grounds" and will be done via planes and naval ships on payment basis and non-scheduled commercial flights would be arranged for air travel. During the process of getting back, all health protocols like social distancing norms will have to be followed.

The evacuees after reaching the destination would have to register on the Indian government's Aarogya Setu app which has been developed to alert about COVID-19 crisis and alerts regarding it. 

After being medically screened, they will be quarantined for 14 days in a hospital or an institutional quarantine on payment-basis by the State governments which will be followed by COVID test at the end of the given period.

Earlier this year, India brought back approximately 2500 of its citizens and 48 foreign nationals from China, Japan, Iran and Italy.

2015 Operation Raahat saw India bringing back around 4600 of its citizens while Operation Sankat Mochan of 2016 saw India bringing back 600 of its nationals from South Sudan. 2011 Operation Safe Homecoming to bring back Indians from war-torn Libya saw 15000 Indian nationals being brought back.

The first decade of the century saw Operation Sukoon in which Indian Navy got back 1764 Indians and was the largest evacuation operations conducted by the Navy since World War II.