Jaishankar makes surprise visit to Kashmir, meets kin of those stranded in Iran

Temporary relief: The C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft going to Iran being loaded with facilities to quarantine the passengers.

Temporary relief: The C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft going to Iran being loaded with facilities to quarantine the passengers.

India sent a military transport aircraft with a specialist medical team on board to Iran on Monday night to bring back Indians stranded in the coronavirus-hit nation.

According to the Indian Air Force, its C-17 Globemaster military aircraft left for Iran from the Hindon airbase at 8.30 p.m.

“An IAF C-17 ‘Globemaster’ aircraft got airborne today at 2030 hrs from Hindan airbase to airlift Indian citizens from Iran. The aircraft has a specialist medical team on board. Indian citizens will be flown to Hindan where medical facilities including quarantine have been set up,” the IAF tweeted.

The C-17 aircraft “will return to India in the early hours tomorrow [on Tuesday] morning. IAF is ensuring the required operational and medical measures are in place for an expeditious and safe return of Indian citizens from Iran,” it said in another tweet.

About 2,000 Indians are living in Iran, a country that has witnessed increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases in the last few days.

According to latest reports, 237 people have died of the virus infection in Iran while the number of positive cases stands at around 7,000.

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar on Monday made a surprise visit to Kashmir and met parents of students stranded in coronavirus-hit Iran as well as tourism industry representatives, assuring both groups that the government was seized of their problems and all would be well.

Mr. Jaishankar, whose visit was kept under a veil of secrecy, drove straight from the airport to the Kashmir International Convention complex, where around 100 parents of students stranded in Iran had gathered.

It is the second such evacuation by the C-17 Globemaster in the last two weeks.

On February 27, 76 Indians and 36 foreign nationals were brought back from the Chinese city of Wuhan by the aircraft of the Indian Air Force.

The aircraft had also taken a consignment of medical supplies to China to help it deal with the crisis.

The C-17 Globemaster is the largest military aircraft in the Indian Air Force’s inventory. The plane can carry large combat equipment, troops and humanitarian aid across long distances in all weather conditions.

Three days ago, a Mahan airline plane brought swab samples of 300 Indians from Iran to India.

The Union Health Ministry was initially considering setting up a laboratory in Iran to test Indians living in the country for coronavirus. However, the plan was shelved due to logistical issues.

Minister of External Affairs S. Jaishankar arrived in J&K on a surprise visit coinciding with the return of 41 locals stranded in COVID-19-hit Iran and China on Monday.

Minister for External Affairs, S. Jaishankar. File

Minister for External Affairs, S. Jaishankar. File photo


Mr. Jaishankar met here the parents and families of students stranded in Iran. “I assured them [the students] that our embassy in Iran is monitoring their welfare. We are committed to facilitating their early return to India,” he said. 

Over 500 J&K residents, especially students, are believed trapped in Iran after India decided to stop flights to the country following the outbreak. Scores of students have been uploading SOS calls online since then

He also met the representatives of the bodies associated with hotels, tours, travels and houseboat owners. “I heard a clear message from them that they are ready for the forthcoming tourist season. I promised them that the government would strongly support tourism promotion efforts, domestically and internationally,” he said.

The Minister used the trip to make a first-hand assessment of the situation in Kashmir, first such extensive tour since the Centre had revoked J&K’s Special Status on August 5 last year. He also visited the volatile Baramulla in north Kashmir and met locals and e-inaugurated a number of projects.

“I heard from a broad cross-section about their strong expectations of change and developmental progress. Confident that their faith in a better future will be realised,” he said.

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He also made a surprise visit to the Srinagar passport office, run by the MEA. His visit was kept under the wraps till he arrived in J&K’s summer capital. 

41 quarantined on arrival 

District Development Commissioner (DDC), Budgam, Tariq Hussain Ganai said all 41 residents of Budgam, who arrived from Iran and China, would be quarantined at 76 bed facilities established at nine isolation locations in the district.

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“Thirty-one Budgam residents have returned from Iran and 10 residents from China. They will be quarantined to ensure proper care and treatment,” he said.

Five groups, comprising 160 pilgrims from Budgam, are expected to return from various countries would also be quarantined, he said.

( With inputs from PTI )

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Printable version | Jun 25, 2022 3:24:16 am |