Operation Raahat begins with deployment of naval ships and IAF transport planes
GN Bureau | April 1, 2015
A naval ship on anti-piracy mission has come handy to rescue Indians stranded in war-torn Yemen. INS Sumitra was diverted from its anti-piracy mission in Gulf of Aden to rescue nearly 400 Indians in the port city of Aden.
The ship is part of the evacuation exercise christened 'Operation Raahat' under which a total of five ships and four aircraft have been deployed. Two warships have also been pressed into service besides two other passenger ships while the Indian Air Force has put on stand-by two C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft.
There are more than 4,100 Indians in Yemen. However, officials believe only 2,500 will leave the country. Most of the Indians are nurses and paramedical staff from Kerala and officials have said many of them are reluctant to leave as they haven’t been paid their salaries.
This is the fourth major evacuation which the Indian government has undertaken. The first three were in Ukraine, Iraq and Libya.
The 348 Indians were dramatically evacuated by the warship from Aden amidst an overnight bombardment reached Djibouti on Wednesday. The group of men, women and children will be flown home from Djibouti, where minister of state for external affairs V K Singh is camping to oversee the evacuation mission.
External affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin announced the evacuation of the 348 Indians by the warship INS Sumitra on Twitter.
“INS Sumitra set sail for Djibouti late last night from Aden with 348 Indian nationals evacuated from Yemen…the first phase of this national effort involving the Indian Navy was successful,” Akbaruddin said.
This is the first batch of Indians evacuated by sea. On Saturday, 80 Indians had flown from the Yemeni capital Sanaa to Djibouti, from where they were airlifted home.
Concerned over the safety of Indians in Yemen, prime minister Narendra Modi had last night sought the help of Saudi Arabia as he held a telephonic conversation with King Salman bin Abdul aziz Al Saud.
Houthi rebels have been trying to capture the southern port of Aden, which is the last stronghold of President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
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