Siddaramaiah, Old Pension Scheme (OPS) New Pension Scheme (NPS)
A file photo of Siddaramaiah.

Siddaramaiah, Jaishankar in war of tweets over Karnataka tribals stranded in Sudan

Senior Karnataka Congress leader Siddaramaiah took to Twitter on Tuesday (April 18) to demand that the Centre take steps to bring back 31 people belonging to the Hakki-Pikki tribe of the state from the war-torn Sudan. However, his tweets did not go down well with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, who accused him of “doing politics” over the matter and “endangering their lives”.

Karnataka State Disaster Management Authority Commissioner Manoj Rajan said, “We have got a message that a group of 31 people hailing from Karnataka are stranded in Sudan. We have informed the Ministry of External Affairs about it.”

Rajan said his department has asked the group to follow the instructions of the Indian embassy in Sudan. He added that as of now, the stranded people should stay wherever they are and not venture out. The MEA is aware of the matter and is working on it, he said in his statement.

Also read: Hakki-Pikkis: What are 31 poor Karnataka tribals doing in war-torn Sudan?

Siddaramaiah’s tweets

However, Siddaramaiah, in a series of tweets, urged the Government of India to bring the stranded people back to the country.

“It is reported that 31 people from Karnataka belonging to Hakki Pikki tribe are stranded in Sudan which is troubled by civil war. I urge (Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, EAM Jaishankar, and Karnataka Chief Minister BS Bommai) to immediately intervene & ensure their safe return.

“Hakki Pikkis in Sudan are left stranded without food since the last few days & the govt is yet to initiate action to bring them back. (The BJP) govt should immediately open diplomatic discussions & reach out to international agencies to ensure the well-being of Hakki Pikkis.

“It is also unfortunate to know that we have lost one Indian & 60 others in the ongoing civil war in Sudan. My deepest condolences to their families and pray for the peace in the region,” read his tweets.

Also read: Sudan violence: 31 tribals from Karnataka stuck, Congress slams govt for ‘inaction’

Sudan situation

At least 185 people have been killed and over 1,800 wounded since the violence erupted in Sudan. The sudden outbreak of violence over the weekend between the nation’s two top generals, each backed by tens of thousands of heavily armed fighters, trapped millions of people wherever they were, with supplies running low and several hospitals forced to shut down.

The two sides are using tanks, artillery, and other heavy weapons in densely populated areas. Fighter jets swooped overhead and anti-aircraft fire lit up the skies as darkness fell.

Jaishankar’s reply

However, EAM Jaishankar was “simply appalled” with the Karnataka Opposition Leader’s tweets. “…There are lives at stake; don’t do politics. Since the fighting started on April 14th, the Embassy of India in Khartoum has been continuously in touch with most Indian Nationals and PIOs in Sudan.

“Their details and locations cannot be made public for security reasons. Their movement is constrained by fierce fighting that is ongoing.

“Plans regarding them have to take into account a very complicated security scenario. The Embassy is in constant touch with the Ministry in that regard. It is grossly irresponsible of you to politicize their situation. No electoral goal justifies endangering Indians abroad,” the MEA wrote in a series of tweets as well.

War of words

Even as Siddaramaiah posted a sarcastic reply to Jaishankar’s tweets, a war of words broke out between BJP leaders and those of the Opposition over the issue. “Since you are the External Affairs Minister, I have appealed you for help. If you are busy getting appalled please point us to the person who can help us bring our people back,” Siddaramaiah replied.

While Karnataka BJP claimed EAM Jaishankar had “(ripped) apart” Siddaramaiah, BJP Yuva Morcha National President and Bengaluru South MP Tejasvi Surya wrote to the Congress leader: “Sir, we don’t need lessons on rescuing stranded Indians from the Congress. Modi Govt has rescued lakhs of stranded Indians during Vande Bharat Mission, students during Ukraine war, nurses from Yemen and more. All Kannadigas will return safe!”

He wrote in another tweet later, “MEA Dr S Jaishankar reprimanding Siddaramaiah for his irresponsible politics serves as reminder to all who Siddaramaiah the politician, really is. One must not compromise core Kannada interests in lieu of electoral gains. This divide & rule mindset has no place in New India.”

Opposition members wondered what was appalling about Siddaramaiah’s tweet. Karnataka Congress spokesperson Lavanya Ballal Jain wrote: “Hello Dr S Jaishankar what’s appalling in seeking help for fellow Indians, Kannadigas stuck in Khartoum? Siddaramaiah avru is being a responsible elected representative, you are being churlish. We need details, not your little girl outrage about rescue operations.”

Raksha Ramaiah, National General Secretary of the Indian Youth Congress, tweeted: “Mr Jaishankar like his boss is not used to being questioned and in this case requests also don’t matter!”

(With agency inputs)

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