Centre finalises two-phase plan to evacuate Indians from Iraq

July 03, 2014 02:52 am | Updated November 16, 2021 06:58 pm IST - NEW DELHI:

As the security situation in Iraq deteriorates, the government has prepared a two-phased plan to evacuate Indians, designating Najaf, Basra and Baghdad as the nodal points of exit, if such a contingency arises.

“During the first phase we will use commercial flights to evacuate as many Indians as possible through Basra, Najaf and Baghdad,” official sources who did not wish to be named told The Hindu . The plan is designed for the evacuation of 6000-7000 Indians using commercial flights of various airlines, including Iraqi Airways, which may deploy special flights to facilitate the exit.

The foreign office has deployed six-member teams at immigration points in Najaf, Karbala and Basra. These teams are providing passes and other documents to those individuals who do not have valid passports, enabling them to clear immigration in the host country. Some of the individuals are being assisted to clear fines that they have incurred with the help of the Indian community welfare fund.

There is an apprehension in official circles that the situation in southern Iraq could worsen as there appears to be a planned attempt to target Shia shrines, thus exacerbating the sectarian strife. In case the situation in the pilgrim centres of Najaf and Kabala deteriorates, Basra, deeper in the south, will become the focal point of evacuation. The Foreign Office spokesman said on Wednesday that curfew had been imposed in Karbala because of internal disturbances.

The government appears inclined to fly Indians trapped in the war zone, with airports in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) roped in as additional points of evacuation in the contingency plan. If required IAF planes can join the civil aviation fleet to carry out the evacuations.

The sources said the use of the Navy to pull out people from Basra and then through the Persian Gulf is the least preferred option.

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