BJP govt not capable of safely evacuating Indians from Ukraine: Congress

BJP govt not capable of safely evacuating Indians from Ukraine: Congress
The Congress on Friday accused the Modi government of being incapable of safely evacuating Indians from Ukraine following a Russian military onslaught, and alleged that India‘s global influence and strength have diminished under the BJP. The opposition party urged the government to send special flights and evacuate free of cost all Indians, mostly students studying in different parts of Ukraine.

Congress senior spokesperson Ajay Maken said one has seen how air fares have been increased four to five times and still planes to Ukraine returned midway. The Ukrainian airspace has been closed for civil aircraft operations since Thursday morning.

“This proves that India’s influence and strength at the international level have diminished under the BJP, considering that it is unable and not capable to safely evacuate its citizens,” he told reporters.

Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi alleged that “this government’s strategic mistakes will prove to be very costly.”

He cited media reports quoting him that the Modi government’s strategic mistakes brought China and Pakistan together and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar saying India’s relations with China was going through “very difficult times”. He also shared media reports on new equations emerging between Pakistan and Russia in a changing world and if China helped Pakistan build bridges to Russia.

Maken said that in the event of a war in the past, Indians were safely evacuated free of cost after the then governments led by the Congress or other parties sent planes to get them back.

“But in the current situation, there is an attempt at profiteering from airfares and the war-situation. This should not happen as exorbitant air fares are being charged from hapless students eager to return from Ukraine. The government should ensure that all Indian students return home safely,” the Congress leader said.

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Targeting the prime minister, Congress whip in Lok Sabha Manickam Tagore said he had deserted small enterprises during the demonetisation exercise and the poor during the coronavirus lockdown.

“Sahib now leaving students Ram Bharose in Ukraine as sitting targets because he can’t request Putin for a simple airlift?” he tweeted.

The government is making efforts to evacuate Indian nationals from Ukraine through its land border crossings with its neighbouring countries and they would then be brought back home, official sources said on Friday.

They said evacuation flights for the Indians are being arranged and the transportation cost will be completely borne by the government.

“The government of India is organising evacuation flights for Indians in Ukraine. The cost will be completely borne by the government for this evacuation,” said a source privy to the development.

India is focusing on evacuating the Indians through Ukraine’s land borders with Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and Romania as the Ukrainian government closed the country’s airspace following the Russian military offensive.

Government officials said Air India is planning to operate two flights to the Romanian capital Bucharest on Friday to evacuate some of the Indians.

Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said on Thursday that there were around 20,000 Indians in Ukraine and of them, nearly 4,000 have returned to India in the last few days.

In a related development, the Indian embassy in Ukraine said efforts are on to evacuate the Indians through Romanian and Hungarian border crossings.

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