Turkey invokes Mahatma Gandhi and Rumi as it delivers Covid-19 aid to India

Published on May 28, 2021 08:35 PM IST

Covid aid material, delivered by two Turkish A400M military cargo aircraft on Wednesday, were packed in boxes that bore the words of 13th century Sufi poet Rumi – “There is hope after despair and many suns after darkness”.

Turkey has joined dozens of countries that have delivered hundreds of tonnes of medical supplies and equipment to India (Twitter/TurkeyinDelhi)
Turkey has joined dozens of countries that have delivered hundreds of tonnes of medical supplies and equipment to India (Twitter/TurkeyinDelhi)
ByRezaul H LaskarRezaul H Laskar

New Delhi: Turkey invoked Mahatma Gandhi and Sufi poet Jalaluddin Rumi as it delivered 50 tonnes of relief material, including five oxygen generators, to support India’s response to a devastating second wave of coronavirus infections.

The material, delivered by two Turkish A400M military cargo aircraft on Wednesday, were packed in boxes that bore the words of 13th century Sufi poet Rumi – “There is hope after despair and many suns after darkness”– and the message: “With love from Turkey to the people of India”.

Turkey has joined dozens of countries that have delivered hundreds of tonnes of medical supplies and equipment, including oxygen generation plants, to help India overcome a severe shortage of oxygen and other materials amid the second wave that saw the daily infection rate breach the 400,000-mark.

A statement from the Turkish embassy referred to the delivery of the supplies, including five oxygen generators, 50 ventilators, 680 oxygen cylinders, and 50,000 boxes of antiviral medicine, late on Wednesday and recalled the role played by Indian leaders in Turkey’s history.

“The assistance and contribution of Indian people and prominent Indian figures like the Father of the Indian Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, who collected funds to support Turkey’s Liberation War [during] 1919-1923, and Dr Mukhtar Ahmad Ansari, who led the medical mission to Ottoman Empire and set up field hospitals to treat wounded Ottoman soldiers during the Balkan Wars in 1912, are still very much alive in the memories of Turkish people,” the statement said.

Turkish ambassador Firat Sunel said the aid from his country was one of the largest consignments sent out amid the second wave. Foreign minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu had offered to send the relief materials during a conversation with his Indian counterpart S Jaishankar on April 26, and Ibrahim Kalin, special adviser to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, oversaw the delivery of the aid.

“Turkey supports communities across the world in their fight against the Coronavirus pandemic. We are proud to stand with the people of India in these trying times,” Kalin tweeted. External affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi thanked the Turkish Red Crescent Society in a tweet for the supplies.

The Turkish aid was seen in some quarters as a move by Ankara to put bilateral ties on an even keel after they were hit in recent years by differences on the Kashmir issue and other matters. Erdoğan’s remarks on the Indian government’s handling of the situation in Kashmir had been criticised by New Delhi as interference in internal matters.

Jaishankar and Çavuşoğlu met in Dushanbe on the margins of the Heart of Asia conference on Afghanistan in March, the first such interaction in more than a year. Turkey recently took on a key role in the Afghan peace process as it is set to host US-proposed talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government.

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