India Keeps Navy, Air Force on Standby to Evacuate Stranded Citizens from Gulf States
13:24 GMT 29.04.2020
New Delhi (Sputnik): India has been considering preparations for a relaxation of lockdown norms if it decides to lift them after the current period ends on 3 May. New Delhi has also been looking at requests from a large number of Indians stranded in foreign countries, especially in the Gulf region, to bring them back home.
India has kept its Navy and Air Force on standby to evacuate its citizens from Gulf countries if the current lockdown restrictions are lifted after 3 May. Defence Ministry sources confirmed to Sputnik that the final decision has to be taken by the Ministry of External Affairs, but that it has asked both the Navy and Air Force to keep its assets ready for such a mission.
Several Indian missions in the Gulf region have also started collecting the data of people wanting to be repatriated, as and when such a decision is made.
India's mission in Dubai told Sputnik that they would start registering people desirous of evacuation starting Wednesday.
The Indian mission in Qatar said in a tweet that it was collecting data: "At this stage, the purpose is only to compile information. No decision or details yet on resumption of flights to India".
The southern Indian state of Kerala, which has the largest number of expatriates in the Gulf countries, started e-registration on the Non-Resident Keralites Affairs (NORKA) website. NORKA is the nodal agency of the state for the welfare of the expatriate community.
100,000 people have already registered on the state portal, showing their interest to return home in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The state has already identified space to accommodate more than 200,000 people in case they require quarantine on return.
India has imposed a travel ban until 3 May to fight the COVID-19 outbreak. Currently, India has a caseload of 31,332 COVID-19 affected, out of which 7,696 have been cured and 1,007 have lost their lives to the virus.
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