Air Force plane carrying 246 Indians evacuated from war-torn Sudan lands in Mumbai

India is “extremely grateful” to Saudi Arabia for the support that it has provided to the evacuation of its citizens so far and assured that India will do “all that it requires to be done” to help its citizens in Sudan: Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra

April 27, 2023 09:57 am | Updated April 28, 2023 01:53 am IST - New Delhi

Indian citizens who were evacuated from Sudan outside Mumbai International Airport on April 27, 2023.

Indian citizens who were evacuated from Sudan outside Mumbai International Airport on April 27, 2023. | Photo Credit: Emmanual Yogini 

An Indian Air Force aircraft with 246 Indians evacuated from war-torn Sudan landed in Mumbai on April 27.

The plane, which took off from Jeddah around 11 a.m. IST, landed here at 3.15 p.m., an official said. The passengers included at least two on wheelchairs.

“Another #OperationKaveri flight comes to Mumbai. 246 more Indians come back to the motherland,” External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar tweeted.

The first batch of 360 Indians arrived in New Delhi on April 26.

“Our efforts to swiftly send Indians back home from Jeddah is paying. 246 Indians will be in Mumbai soon, travelling by IAF C17 Globemaster. Happy to see them off at Jeddah airport,” tweeted Union minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan minutes before the plane left for Mumbai.

Under ‘Operation Kaveri’, India has been taking its citizens in buses from conflict zones of Khartoum and other troubled areas to Port Sudan from where they are being taken to the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah in Indian Air Force’s heavy-lift transport aircraft and Indian Navy’s ships.

The distance between Khartoum and Port Sudan is around 850 km and the travel time by bus varies from 12 hours to 18 hours considering the prevailing situation and whether the vehicles are operating during the day or night.

Earlier, INS Tarkash from the Indian Navy reached Port Sudan to help in the evacuation of stranded Indians, said Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra. Announcing the latest developments regarding “Operation Kaveri” that is currently under way, Mr. Kwatra said India is “extremely grateful” to Saudi Arabia for the support that it has provided to the evacuation of its citizens so far and assured that India will do “all that it requires to be done” to help its citizens in Sudan. 

Editorial | Rescue service: On ‘Operation Kaveri’ and Sudan

“On April 25, INS Sumedha brought 278 Indian nationals. It’s the same INS Sumedha which has gone back and redocked today. Two sorties of C-130J brought in 121 and 135 passengers respectively. Yesterday on 26th April, another batch of 297 Indians have sailed out on INS Teg and two more sorties of C-130J to evacuate 264 Indians,” said Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra giving an update about the Indians and the people of Indian origin who have so far been evacuated. 

INS Tarkash is the third ship to join the evacuation which is also being supported by INS Sumedha and INS Teg. The ships are being used to ferry stranded Indians from Port Sudan to the Saudi port of Jeddah from where they are being flown to India. “The pockets of concentration of Indians are in Khartoum city and its suburbs. There are also pockets in Omdurman, Port Sudan. As soon as the fighting broke out in Khartoum, our embassy immediately alerted and reached out to as many members of the Indian community as they could,” said Mr. Kwatra. 

Foreign Secretary Kwatra said India has set up control rooms in Jeddah and Port Sudan that are coordinating with the headquarter here and said the evacuation has to deal with factors such as lack of diesel and buses on the ground. He also mentioned that 42 Indian nationals were evacuated to South Sudan. “There were evacuation requests from other nationalities also. From our side we are willing to provide all possible assistance to everybody who approaches us for such assistance,” said Mr. Kwatra explaining that such a process would have to take into account the transit country - Saudi Arabia which may require fulfilment of certain procedures to be completed. 

Also read: Explained | A quick guide to the unfolding crisis in Sudan

Mr. Kwatra praised the support from the Saudi authorities saying, “We have been working very closely with the government of Saudi Arabia and the Saudi leadership and they have been extremely helpful, supportive and cooperative in this endeavour and we are extremely grateful to them for that because the positioning of our control room in Jeddah and providing of our assets who would bring back the stranded Indians in Jeddah — whether of air force and Navy — we have had excellent support and cooperation from the Saudi authorities.“

Indian citizens who were evacuated from Sudan outside Mumbai International Airport on Thursday.

Indian citizens who were evacuated from Sudan outside Mumbai International Airport on Thursday. | Photo Credit: Emmanual Yogini 

Mr. Kwatra described the situation in Sudan as “highly volatile and unpredictable” and said India is in touch with both the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and the Sudanese Armed Forces to ensure safety of the Indians nationals. India has been aiming to bring Indians to the “greater safety zone” as the first step and then shift them to Port Sudan before evacuating them to India via Jeddah. “Substantial number of buses are currently on their way from Khartoum city to Port Sudan. Approximately 1,700 to 2,000 people have already moved out of from the conflict zone,” he said without getting into the specificity of the numbers. Mr. Kwatra described the condition of the Sudanese capital as “volatile”. 

He assured that India is willing to help the People of Indian Origin (PIOs) in Sudan and will help them. “There are roughly 900 to 1,000 persons of Indian origin in Sudan. These are persons of Indian origin living in Sudan for over hundred years. They have deep roots in that society,” said Mr. Kwatra promising them “all assistance to them” if they so request. 

Jaishankar discusses Sudan situation with U.K. Foreign Secretary James Cleverly

External Affairs Minister S, Jaishankar has spoken to U.K. Foreign Secretary James Cleverly and discussed the evolving situation in Sudan, as India stepped up efforts to evacuate its stranded citizens from the strife-torn African country.

Mr. Jaishankar, who arrived in Bogota in Colombia’s capital from Panama, on April 24, announced the launch of the mission ‘Operation Kaveri’ to bring back the stranded Indians from Sudan that has been witnessing fierce fighting following a power struggle between the regular army and the RSF.

"Spoke to U.K. Foreign Secretary @JamesCleverly just now. Discussed the evolving situation in Sudan," he tweeted on April 27.

U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on April 25 that his government has commenced a “large-scale” evacuation effort to help British nationals leave Sudan.

"The government has begun a large-scale evacuation of British passport holders from Sudan on RAF flights. Priority will be given to the most vulnerable, including families with children and the elderly,” Mr. Sunak tweeted.

Mr. Jaishankar took to Twitter to share images of the Indian evacuees after their arrival at the Delhi airport.

"India welcomes back its own. Operation Kaveri brings 360 Indian nationals to the homeland as first flight reaches New Delhi," he tweeted.

"OperationKaveri takes more steps forward. Another 136 Indian Nationals have been moved to safety in Jeddah. They will come home soon," he said in another tweet.

A video on Indians evacuated from Sudan | Video Credit: The Hindu Bureau

Mr. Jaishankar is on a nine-day trip to Guyana, Panama, Colombia, and the Dominican Republic, his first visit as the external affairs minister to these Latin American countries and the Caribbean.

670 Indians evacuated

India has evacuated at least 670 Indian nationals from Sudan and is looking to rescue more of its citizens from the strife-torn African nation before the end of a tenuous ceasefire between the regular army and a paramilitary force.

Sudan has been witnessing deadly fighting between the country's army and a paramilitary group for the last 12 days that has reportedly left around 400 people dead.

India stepped up its efforts to evacuate the Indians from Sudan after a 72-hour truce was agreed between the Sudanese army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces following intense negotiations.

(With inputs from PTI)

Top News Today

Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.