Thiruvananthapuram: Congress MP Shashi Tharoor and CPI leader Binoy Viswam, in separate letters to the External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, requested him to direct the Indian consulate to include the names of 26 Indian nationals in a ship that is bringing back stranded Indians from Iran under the Vande Bharat Mission.
The group of people hail from Kerala and Tamil Nadu and have been stranded in Iran for over two months due to the COVID-19 induced travel restrictions.
The two leaders in their separate letters to Jaishankar mentioned the details of the 26 stranded people.
“For over two months, this group of 26 people has been stranded in Iran due to the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic and pursuant travel restrictions. These citizens had traveled to Iran in search of work but found themselves stranded when the lockdown began. They have struggled to survive for the last two months and it is only the kindness of strangers that have kept them safe till now,” read a letter written by Viswam.
“In spite of the tremendous difficulties they have faced during this period, they sadly have not been included in the manifest for the ship. While I have been informed that there appears to be no additional space on the ship, I would still be grateful if you could kindly look into this one more time to see if there is any scope to still include these individuals,” Tharoor said in the letter.
The Congress leader further said that it was “imperative that our embassy looks into providing immediate relief including shelters, food supply, and other basic necessities to all members of this group, the majority of whom have left their sponsors and have expired visas.”
“They cannot be expected to continue to reside in the country on their own means. The aforementioned support should be provided using the Indian community Welfare Fund and should be extended until such time as an alternate means to bring them back to India is established,” he added.
“I urge you to use the power of your office and ensure the safe return of Indian citizens stranded in Iran and direct the Indian consulate to ensure the safety of our citizens till they can be evacuated. In times of such crisis, I hope the government will stand by its citizens,” said Vishwam in his letter.
The mission, which started from May 7, is in its third phase. The recent phase commenced on June 11.
As on Thursday, 3,64,209 people have returned under the mission, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said.
The Indian government has also approved additional flight services to bring back Indian nationals who are still stranded abroad.