India will operate special flights from June 25-28 to evacuate Indians from blockade-hit Qatar. Seven countries in the Gulf recently imposed a travel and trade boycott on Qatar. The countries barred usage of their airspace for flights originating from Qatar or destined for the country. Many Indians who want to return to India are unable to secure bookings on flights due to the sudden spike in demands. Thus, the government has taken the help of Air India and Jet Airways to operate special flights between Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram and Mumbai in India and Doha in Qatar.
India has a history of successful airlift and sea-based evacuation operations where a huge number of people have been brought back to the safety of Indian borders.
Let’s take a look at some of these operations:
The Indian government organised Operation Raahat with the help of Indian armed forces to evacuate Indians as well as foreign citizens from conflict-hit Yemen in 2015. The operation was carried out amid Saudi Arabia’s intervention in Yemen when the country was reeling with an internal crisis. The operation started by sea on April 1 and two days later the airlifts started too. The airlifts by the Indian Air Force and Air India resulted in the evacuation of over 4,500 Indians and at least 900 foreign nationals from 41 countries. The airlifts concluded on April 9.
Indian Air Force carried out Operation Maitri in 2015 when a massive earthquake hit Nepal. The quake of magnitude 8.8 on the Richter scale brought massive destruction to the country. India evacuated stranded Indians and rescued foreign nationals as well apart from providing humanitarian relief. Over 2,200 people were rescued from critical zones by the forces including foreigners.
Workers rescued from Iraq
In 2014, the Indian government repatriated 6,977 workers from Iraq and 3,200 workers from Libya during violent conflict and war like situations.
Operation Safe Homecoming
Operation Safe Homecoming was organised by the Indian government which was a mixture of air and sea-based evacuation in 2011 from Libya. Around 15,000 stranded Indians were evacuated from the country while 3,000 chose to stay back.
India evacuated Indians stuck in Iraq in 2003. The operation was planned for the evacuation of 50,000 people. The numbers of the total people evacuated vary but the official line puts the operation as a success.
Operation Sukoon was carried out during the 2006 Lebanon war when a military conflict broke between Israel and Hezbollah. It was launched to evacuate Indians, Sri Lankans and Nepalese citizens from war-hit Lebanon. Of the 10,000 Indians living in Lebanon at the time, around 2,000 were at a risk and were in the conflict zone. At the end, 2,280 people were evacuated from Lebanon–1,764 Indians, 112 Sri Lankans, 64 Nepalese and seven Nepalese nationals with Indian spouses. The Indian forces also evacuated citizens of some other friendly countries as courtesy.
Airlift of Indians from Kuwait
The airlift of Indians from Kuwait in 1990 was one of the biggest such operation organised by the Indian government ever. The operation was carried out between August and October after Kuwait was invaded by Iraqi forces. At least 1,75,000 Indians were evacuated taking the help of Air India and civil aircraft. Air India found its way into the Guinness Book of World Records for carrying out the largest number of people evacuated by a civilian airliner.