With the protests in Egypt cascading and the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak looking imminent, India on Friday said it backed democratic aspirations of the Egyptian people for reforms and assured that the Indian community in that country is safe.
"The 3,600-strong Indian community in Egypt is safe,” the Indian embassy said in Cairo, adding that a 24-hour Control Room has been operating in the mission since Jan 28 to assist the Indian nationals.
Earlier, the embassy had facilitated three special flights of Air India from Cairo to Mumbai to help transport Indian nationals, including tourists, women and children.
Amid unprecedented mass protests that have left at least 13 killed and over 800 wounded, External Affairs Minister SM Krishna condemned the crackdown on the media and backed popular aspirations for reform in Egypt.
"I think the crackdown on the media, the assault on journalists from all over the world who had gathered to report about the developments in Egypt is certainly condemnable,” Krishna told CNN-IBN.
"It is an act against the freedom of the press, freedom of the media. And India does not go along with the situation,” Krishna said, adding that the media at the same time has to be very responsible.
Krishna stressed that India will voice its displeasure at the way Indian media in particular has been handled. “And it becomes all the more regrettable that military personnel were responsible in seeking out journalists from various hotels and then taking them into custody. I think this is an act we condemn,” he said.
"The large majority of people in Egypt they want reforms, they want democratisation of the whole polity and I think that is legitimate and that has to be factored in whatever government of Egypt does,” he said.
"India goes along with the democratic aspirations for reforms in Egypt, which is being urged by the people,” he said.
He, however, treaded cautiously when asked whether India has changed its earlier stand of mass protests being an internal affair of Egypt. “Well, it still continues to be an internal affair of Egypt because there is a government which has been elected by the people,” he said.
"The govt should see its way to understand the democratic aspirations of the people and I think they should come to terms with that and it is better for them, better for the region and better for everybody,” he added.
"India has its own ways of communicating its intentions and I will certainly consider this aspect of it,” he replied when asked whether India was calling for Mubarak to heed those wishes of the people to step down.