When the men showed exemplary bravery and magnanimity

For the Navy, the dangers of Operation Rahat are still high

Updated - November 28, 2021 09:54 am IST

Published - April 13, 2015 03:17 am IST - New Delhi:

Indian evacuees from Yemen cling to the rescue boat taking them to Navy ship INS Tarkash anchored off Aden. Photo: Special Arrangement.

Indian evacuees from Yemen cling to the rescue boat taking them to Navy ship INS Tarkash anchored off Aden. Photo: Special Arrangement.

As the night of April 10, when a riot-like situation prevailed around INS Tarkash off Aden with bombs going off and Saudi airstrikes pounding the city, brought out extreme bravery and magnanimity of the naval personnel, one question that remains is why are Indian forces exposed to high risks to rescue nationals of so many countries.

Operation Raahat has evacuated 964 foreign nationals from 30 countries. Many SAARC nations directly requested Indian assistance, and those like the U.S. which did not launch any rescue mission of their own, simply listed Indian Embassy numbers in Yemen on their own travel advisories, urging citizens to contact Indian officials for help.

An official press release described the conditions as “difficult”. “Gun shots, shelling and firing in the port area and on the jetty were reported by crew of INS Tarkash,” it said.

Most of the more than 5,000 Indians stranded in Yemen have been brought home safely, but for Indian Naval personnel the dangers of the rescue mission are still very high. “Everyone sees how the Air Force and officials are processing the people brought out from Yemen, but they aren’t aware of the hourly dangers the personnel aboard the naval ships are facing,” a naval official says.

Speaking about the challenges that the naval personnel faced, Naval Public Relations Officer Captain D.K. Sharma said, “When you are going to a place that has fallen to rebels … all the authorities and infrastructure fails. Our men have been working as a sea bridge without respite, to bring Indian citizens out of Yemen, stopping in Djibouti only to disembark them and then going back into the war zone.”

In the past decade, the Navy has undertaken similar rescue missions, bringing more than 1,500 out of Lebanon in 2006 despite a naval blockade and daily airstrikes by Israel, and hundreds out of Tripoli just days before the NATO bombing of Libya began in 2011.

“We had learnt many lessons from those operations but this was different, as the ports of Aden, Al Mokallah and Al Hodeidah had fallen to Houthi rebels and other armed groups,” Captain Sharma said. INS Tarkash, INS Sumitra and INS Delhi are still engaged in rescue operations, officials confirmed, while INS Mumbai is en route India.

The great Yemen escape: Operation Rahat by numbers


Total number of people evacuated


Indians Rescued


foreign nationals rescued


countries whose citizen were rescued by India


those evacuated by air through 18 special flights out of Sana a


those rescued by sea from Aden, Al Hudaydah and Al Mukalla

Day-by-day action

(Approximate, based on tweets from MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin and General V.K. Singh)

April 1

  • Navy's INS Sumitra
  • Aden
  • 348

April 2

  • Navy's INS Sumitra
  • Al Hudaydah
  • 300+

April 3

  • 2 flights from Air India
  • 351

April 4

  • 325
  • 439

April 5

  • 488
  • 225+229
  • 203

April 6

  • 574
  • 176
  • 479

April 7

  • 600+

April 8

  • 630 (Air operations conclude)

April 9

  • 349 (Evacuation concludes)
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