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Coronavirus: India says Beijing is ‘deliberately delaying’ nod for IAF flight, China denies

Sources on Saturday said that China is “deliberately delaying” permission for an Indian Air Force plane to coronavirus-hit Wuhan.

Written by Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi |
Updated: February 23, 2020 7:55:24 am
Coronavirus: India says Beijing is ‘deliberately delaying’ nod for IAF flight, China denies A Chinese Embassy spokesperson said there was no deliberate delay in grant of permission for the Indian plane to reach Wuhan (AP Photo)

A flight to send relief supplies to Wuhan and to bring back stranded Indians and nationals from neighbouring countries became a bone of contention between India and China.

Sources on Saturday said that China is “deliberately delaying” permission for an Indian Air Force plane to coronavirus-hit Wuhan.

India had submitted its request with Chinese authorities on February 13 for the C-17 military transport aircraft while the flight plan was submitted on February 15 with a proposal mentioning February 20 as its date of departure.

When contacted, a Chinese Embassy spokesperson said there was no deliberate delay in grant of permission for the Indian plane to reach Wuhan, adding China always attaches great importance to health and safety of Indian nationals living in the country.

“China is deliberately delaying grant of clearance for the evacuation flight,” a source said and questioned why the permission was not granted to India, while flights from Japan, Ukraine and France operated from Wuhan between February 16 and 20.

India has already evacuated 647 Indians from Wuhan in two separate flights. According to estimates, over 100 Indians are still stranded in Wuhan.

Sources said Indian nationals stranded in Wuhan are waiting to be brought back home and the uncertainty over the evacuation is causing them mental stress and anxiety. The aircraft was to carry a large consignment of medical supplies to China as well.

Sources said while the Chinese side continues to maintain that there was no delay in granting permission for the flight to go, the clearance has “inexplicably” not been given.

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