Kuwait fire tradegy: Centre denies permission to Kerala minister to travel to Kuwait; Congress says ‘most unfortunte’

Kerala Chief Minister, however, acknowledged the efforts on the part of the Governments of India and Kuwait in their intervention following the fire tragedy.

Edited By Sanchari Ghosh
First Published15 Jun 2024, 02:45 PM IST
Mother of Akash Sasidharan Nair, one of the victims of a fire that broke out in a building housing foreign workers in Kuwait, cries next to the body of her son after the body was brought to his home for the funeral in Kerala
Mother of Akash Sasidharan Nair, one of the victims of a fire that broke out in a building housing foreign workers in Kuwait, cries next to the body of her son after the body was brought to his home for the funeral in Kerala(REUTERS)

Kerala's health minister Veena George, who wanted to visit Kuwait to assist the injured in the recent fire incident that claimed 49 lives, including 23 from the state, was allegedly denied permission to travel by the Centre. The opposition criticised the Centre's move as ‘most unfortunate’. 

The Kerala government authorized George and Jeevan Babu, National Health Mission director, to fly to Kuwait to oversee the treatment of injured Keralites and repatriate mortal remains. Since the trip required political clearance from the MEA, a request was forwarded to the Centre and the state chief secretary,  George informed. 

“We were hopeful of getting the clearance at the last minute and even travelled to the airport in Kochi...but the MEA did not give the political clearance for the travel. The death of each person from India in Kuwait is saddening. But Kerala has lost the most numbers of people in this tragedy,” she said.

Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan criticised the Centre's move, but avoided making it a political issue at the hour of grief. He said, “I don’t intend to raise it now as a serious issue, maybe, we can discuss it later. Right now, the state and central governments must work together and coordinate efforts to help these families affected by the tragedy.” 

The Chief Minister, however, acknowledged the efforts on the part of the Governments of India and Kuwait in their intervention following the fire tragedy.

The opposition Congress in the southern state termed the Centre’s decision “most unfortunate”.

Slamming the Centre, Congress leader and the leader of the opposition in Kerala assembly VD Satheesan said, “The Centre’s representative went early, but if the state representative was also there, she [George] could have coordinated efforts with the local Malayali expatriate outfits there. The Centre’s decision sends a wrong message.” 

Meanwhile, BJP leader and former Union Minister of State for External Affairs, V Muraleedharan, said while speaking to news agency ANI interests of Indian citizens who live abroad are safeguarded by the Centre “so I really don't see why a particular state minister has to travel to a foreign country to take care of the issues of the people of that state.”

Governor Khan defended the Centre’s decision, saying when the bodies of the deceased were being brought on Friday, what would George have achieved by going to Kuwait a day ago. “So, if you go yesterday and then come back again today, what will be the actual work which will be done there? Already the government of India ministers were in Kuwait and they were bringing the bodies today [Friday],” he told reporters in Thiruvananthapuram.

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First Published:15 Jun 2024, 02:45 PM IST
HomeNewsIndiaKuwait fire tradegy: Centre denies permission to Kerala minister to travel to Kuwait; Congress says ‘most unfortunte’

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