India in the early hours of Thursday launched the Operation ‘Sankat Mochan’ and sent two C-17 military transport aircraft to war-torn South Sudan’s capital city Juba to evacuate more than 300 Indians stranded in the city.
South Sudan has been rocked by violence, and a heavy fighting between government troops & forces loyal to Vice-President Riek Machar was going on for the past week and has already claimed hundreds of lives. The Minister of State for External Affairs Gen. VK Singh is leading the operation “Sankat Mochan” and he is accompanied by Amar Sinha, secretary (economic relations) in the external affairs ministry, director Anjani Kumar and the joint secretary Satbir Singh.
The spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs tweeted on Wednesday, “The General takes charge again! 2 C-17s proceeding to Juba tomorrow with @Gen_VKSingh leading evac’n frm South Sudan.”
— Vikas Swarup (@MEAIndia) July 13, 2016
A few hours later he tweeted again, “#OperationSankatMochan begins at crack of dawn. Two C 17 aircraft leave for Juba with @Gen_VKSingh on board.”
— Vikas Swarup (@MEAIndia) July 14, 2016
“We’ll make all possible efforts to bring back safely all Indian nationals who are stranded in Sudan,” Gen. VK Singh said to the reporters before leaving for the mission.
Only the Indians with valid travel document will be granted the boarding pass with maximum five kg cabin baggage and no check-in pieces. Children and women will be charted on priority. A Ministry of External Affairs officer had ordered the Indians in South Sudan to get in touch with the embassy there and register themselves. The officer also said the return flights would be only up to New Delhi, and if needed, more flights will be pressed into service,
According to the MEA, nearly 600 Indians reside in South Sudan, among of them 450 are in Juba, and nearly 150 are outside the capital. The officials also confirmed that so far almost 300 Indians have registered with the Indian Embassy for evacuation.
Actor Akshay Kumar, who played the lead role in the movie “Airlift” which is based on a similar situation where Indians were stranded in Kuwait in the early 1990s, tweeted on Tuesday to Sushma Swaraj, minister of external affairs, requesting her to rescue the Indians stranded in South Sudan.
India has been closely monitoring the developments in South Sudan, where a fierce fighting between Sudan People’s Liberation Army in the Government (SPLA-IG) led by President Salva Kiir and Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition (SPLA-IO) led by first Vice President Riek Machar was going in, and even set up a task force. On Monday evening, South Sudan President Salva Kiir ordered a ceasefire as well as to cease all hostilities, and protect civilians.