Since March, nearly 2,000 Indian fishers, sailors, students, and pilgrims are stuck in Iran and are waiting anxiously to return to their homeland. However, even after several pleas by them, and requests by the respective state governments, there has been no effort by the Centre to evacuate them.
A petition regarding the same has also been filed in the Supreme Court but the apex court on Monday (April 13) directed them (stranded Indians) to “stay where they are” as it was not possible to fly them back home in the current situation.
However, the Court directed the Centre to file its reply in the petitions relating to the evacuation of students from the United States and Gulf nations by April 20.
Worried over the delays by the India administration and with increasing COVID-19 cases in Iran, some of the affected have become desperate to return home.
“Every time we call the Indian Embassy in Iran to ask about the medical tests, one of the mandatory criteria if we are to take a flight to India, they say “no information” on that,” Chirag Rajesh Chanaliya, one of the affected sailors from Pune said.
He added, “It’s been almost 25 days since we are locked up in a room. We cannot go out as we fear we might contract the virus.”
The Indian Embassy officials, however, denied charges and said all the relevant information was being relayed to the stuck Indian nationals and that their queries were being addressed instantaneously.
Regarding the evacuation, the official did not confirm if they will be evacuated before May 3.
“No decision has been taken on it, yet,” the Embassy said.
Chanaliya was hassled during the initial days and was shuttling between the Indian Embassy and hotel seeking the government’s help. Eventually, the embassy arranged for accommodation for him and six others and agreed to bear the expenses.
Chirag was among the many who came out of the ship and moved to Tehran on March 15 to get the test done so as to fly out of the country. However, back then the officials sent him back saying they do not have enough kits to test.
In response to the queries from The Federal, the Indian Embassy official in Iran said, “The Embassy is in continuous contact with our nationals. They are all in good health and are accommodated in hotels designated by the Embassy.”
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“We are also in contact with the hotel owners who can help our nationals with small chores, if required, given the unfamiliarity of the local language.”
Until now, eight batches of Indian nationals-about 270 people-have been evacuated in the past month.
The Indian Navy Quarantine Facility at Material Organisation, Ghatkopar, Mumbai on April 13 announced that it quarantined 44 evacuees (including 24 women) from Iran. All of them were residents of Srinagar and Ladakh and were airlifted on April 12 to their respective locations.
Considering a number of the stranded Indians are Keralites, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Sunday appealed to the External Affairs Minister to take steps to evacuate those stranded in Iran.
The Tamil Nadu government too had on April 11 taken up the issue with the Centre and sought immediate evacuation of around 450 fishers working in various fishing vessels berthed and operating in Iranian ports.