Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral RK Dhowan on Monday lauded the efforts of those involved in Operation Raahat aboard the vessels INS Tarkash and INS Mumbai that returned to Mumbai port last week.
The vessels conducted several rounds each to various ports of Yemen to ferry Indians back safely. INS Tarkash ferried 96 Indians and 442 foreign nationals, while INS Mumbai carried 728 Indians and 187 foreign nationals to Djibouti.
Captain Pradeep Singh of INS Tarkash said their first priority was rescuing Indians. “Armed men on boats forced us to take passengers they ferried on the vessel. It looked like they had taken money to rescue them. But our first priority was to rescue Indians,” he said.
A commando involved in the operation said, “Some locals took Indians hostages, asking us to carry foreign nationals. Since we were on rescue mission, we rescued the foreign nationals as well.”
Similar experiences were faced by INS Mumbai. Captain Rajesh Dhankar said, “During the evacuation, we checked identity proofs to ensure nothing illegal came onboard. We provided food to those we rescued. The situation worsened by the day. Hundreds faced dehydration; we had a pregnant woman onboard. Our medical team did a commendable job.”
“There was a lot of violence around the port. We had to fight off locals to protect onboard. Indians, who knew Arabic, helped. We sailed past everything,” said commando.