Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Friday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to facilitate the return of Indians stranded in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region and set up region-specific task forces using local community resources to streamline relief and repatriation operations.
In a letter to the prime minister and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, Tharoor highlighted the difficulties being faced by Indians in the Gulf and shared his suggestions to help address some of their existing concerns.
Tharoor called for developing region-specific task forces using local community resources in order to streamline relief and repatriation operations.
“While our embassies have been admirably executing their duties thus far, the government must also look into leveraging the substantial resources that we have in the region, including established Indian cultural organisations and expatriate groups, prominent community and business leaders and civil society organisations, which will help bolster the capacity of our government to reach out to Indians affected in these regions,” Tharoor said.
The task force should be representative of the diversity that these groups represent and could be convened by India’s ambassador in that specific country, with the joint secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs who is in charge of that particular region, also closely involved in a suitable capacity to ensure coordination with the ministry, Tharoor said.
He also called for developing protocols to ensure the expedited repatriation of the mortal remains of Indians who have passed away in GCC countries.
He urged the prime minister and the external affairs minister to facilitate the evacuation of certain economic and social groups from these regions back to their respective states.
There are a number of groups that the government must look into evacuating such as the elderly and senior citizens, pregnant women, those with expired visit visas, the jobless, those on their final exit, persons released under pardon and so on, who do not otherwise form a part of the critical service providing segment in these countries, Tharoor said.
Through special charter flights or commercial operations, it is imperative to look into evacuating these groups in a structured, phased and timely manner, the MP from Thiruvananthapuram said.
“In order to ensure their safety and of Indian citizens in the country, a strong protocol should be developed in coordination with state governments, which, among others, would require any individual who is being evacuated to provide proof of COVID-19 testing, register their details with the central and state health ministry, and undergo both mandatory screening upon arrival as well as quarantine either at their respective homes or at a hospital,” he said.