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India offered to evacuate people from all neighbouring countries from Wuhan: Jaishankar

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar (Photo: PTI)Premium
External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar (Photo: PTI)

  • EAM told Rajya Sabha on Friday that seven Maldives nationals chose to avail themselves of the offer during the evacuation carried out recently by Air India
  • Jaishankar said nearly 80 Indian students are still in Wuhan, including 10 students who were not allowed to board the special flights due to running fever

New Delhi: Indian foreign minister S. Jaishankar on Friday said India had offered to evacuate students from all of India’s neighbouring countries, including those from Pakistan,from the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak in China's Wuhan city when it had despatched its aircraft last weekend.

Replying to a question in the Rajya Sabha Jaishankar said that when New Delhi sent two Air India flights, India had offered “bring back all the people in our neighbourhood," news reports quoted him as saying.

“We were prepared to bring back not only our people but also those from all our neighbourhood who would have liked to. This was an offer which was made to all our neighbours but only seven nationals of Maldives chose to avail the offer," Jaishankar said in Rajya Sabha, according to an ANI report.

As many as 647 Indians and 7 Maldivians returned to New Delhi last week on two special Air India flights from Wuhan -- a Chinese city of more than 11 million people which has been the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak.

Since the evacuation, several video messages have appeared on social media in which students from Pakistan have sought India’s help to fly out from China.

When asked on Thursday if India was looking at helping evacuate Pakistanis from Hubei province of which Wuhan is the capital, Indian foriegn ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar had said India had received no such request from Pakistan. “If the situation develops and we have the resources, we can definitely consider it," he had said.

Ties between India and Pakistan have been tense over the past year after a 14 February suicide attack by a terrorist, belonging to a Pakistan based group, that killed 40 Indian paramilitary personnel. Ties dipped further after India revoked a special provision in its constitution that bestowed special status on Kashmir in August and integrated it more closely with the rest of India.

In his statement to the Rajya Sabha, Jaishankar said there are about 80 Indian students who are currently still in Wuhan.

“By our estimate, there are about 80 Indian students who are currently still in Wuhan. This includes 10 students who had come to the airport but were running a fever so Chinese authority after screening did not allow them to board the flight," he was quoted as saying.

“Seventy of them chose to stay in Wuhan and not get evacuated by the two flights. The embassy is in touch with all the students and we are regularly monitoring their situation," the minister said.

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