If you go strictly by the terms and conditions of the officialdom, evacuation and facilitation are different things. From Libya, Indian nationals are being evacuated, but in case of Egypt, the jury is divided. For most, it was a facilitation of Indians to move out, though some officials called it “evacuation”.
Against the 18,000 Indians in Libya, Egypt had 3,600--out of which 1,037 were studying at Al Azhar University in Cairo. From Egypt, some 500 were moved out and the situation stabilised soon enough. In the process of taking people out of Egypt, began the battle of terms-facilitation vs evacuation.
Some passengers brought back by Air India said they had to pay Rs 45,000 when the normal fare would have been Rs 20,000. “A Boeing 747 with a capacity of 423 seats, was specially flown to Cairo to bring back those passengers who wanted to return to India. It was a special arrangement, and the cost of the operation had to be recovered,” said an official involved with the process.
“Government has arranged a special Air India flight, at the request of the Indian community in Egypt, in view of the prevailing conditions there,” the MEA statement had said on January 30.
But many foreign nationals were flown out free of cost, many Indians who returned from Egypt complained. So a distinction was made between evacuation and facilitation, which meant moving citizens out on demand.
But when it came to Libya, many Indian workers were from South India, including from two poll-bound states Kerala and Tamil Nadu. With the situation worsening in Libya, an inter-ministerial committee headed by Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao was constituted.
The committee consisting officials from the civil aviation, defence and shipping ministries drew up the evacuation plan.
Sensing the situation, external affairs minister SM Krishna had directed that “no fee will be charged”. “It is an evacuation from a tough terrain. Many people had left their homes and took shelter elsewhere. And it was a civil war situation, and nobody could have asked them to pay,” said an MEA official.