2 warships sent to Maldives to bring back stranded Indians
Indians being brought from Male to Kochi on INS Jalashwa will have to pay $40 for the transportation as “evacuation services charge,” the High Commission of India in Maldives said on Thursday.Updated: May 08, 2020 10:18 IST
The first phase of an operation by the navy to bring back Indians stranded overseas will begin on Friday after two warships dispatched to the Maldives reach the island nation late in the night.
The navy said on Thursday that INS Jalashwa had reached the shores of Maldives and phase one of the operation called ‘Samudra Setu’ will commence on Friday.
The navy’s solitary landing platform dock , the INS Jalashwa, (formerly known as USS Trenton) was bought from the United States 13 years ago.
The second ship, INS Magar, is expected to arrive in the Maldives later on Thursday night.
Indians being brought from Male to Kochi on INS Jalashwa will have to pay $40 for the transportation as “evacuation services charge,” the High Commission of India in Maldives said on Thursday. Former navy chief Admiral Arun Prakash told Hindustan Times that such a charge was being imposed for the first time. “This has never happened before,” he said.
The high commission said on Twitter that the amount would be collected at the service fee collection counter after completion of the immigration process at Velana International Airport in the Maldives. “If this is humanitarian assistance, why are people being charged,” said two senior retired navy officers asking not to be named.
The evacuated personnel will be disembarked in Kochi and handed over the respective agencies of various states. The navy said the ‘Samudra Setu’ is being carried out with the cooperation of various central ministries and state governments. All people will be given basic amenities and medical care during the voyage.
The navy has kept two ships on standby for evacuation from the Gulf --- INS Shardul and INS Airavat.
The navy on Tuesday dispatched two amphibious warships to Male to evacuate Indians stranded in the Maldives amid the swift spread of coronavirus disease globally. The navy is bringing back Indian nationals stuck overseas under operation Samudra Setu and is expected to help around 1,000 people.
Indian warships have carried out large-scale evacuations in the past.
Operation Sukoon was launched by navy to evacuate Indian, Sri Lankan and Nepalese nationals, as well as Lebanese nationals with Indian spouses, from the conflict zone during the 2006 Lebanon War. The task force consisted of INS Mumbai, INS Brahmaputra, INS Betwa and fleet tanker INS Shakti. A total of 2,280 people including 1,764 Indians were evacuated.
In 2015, the navy carried out a major evacuation from Yemen under Operation Raahat. Indian ships Sumitra, Mumbai, Tarkash were among the vessels that took part in the operation. It resulted in the evacuation of 3,074 people from Yemen, including 1,291 foreign nationals