Mumbai: Hailing Dawoodi Bohra community’s role in the evacuation of Indians from Yemen during ‘Operation Rahat’, Minister of State for External Affairs General V K Singh today said these “silent workers” did a tremendous job but have not been adequately recognised for their work.
“For evacuating Indians, not only did we get great amount of help from Yemeni authorities who were willing to come to the airport while it was otherwise barren, we also had the Indian Bohra community which provided us volunteers and assisted us in gathering people to come to us,” Singh said.
“These silent workers did a tremendous job and I think nobody seems to have recognised the type of role this little community played out there in ensuring that people could come to the airport, could be ferried to the airport. Word would be passed around to them that aircraft will start landing at so and so time so we want you to come early,” he said.
“They were also ensuring that immigration authorities worked there and assisted us,” the former Army Chief said.
He was speaking at an event in Bombay Stock Exchange where he was felicitated for the success of ‘Operation Rahat’ conducted by the government in April this year.
Describing the challenges that Indian authorities faced while evacuating Indians from the war-torn country, Singh said some people were reluctant to return to India and had to be coaxed to come back.
“Our people who were working there were very happy, except that when the situation went bad they thought it is better that we get evacuated. Otherwise there were a lot of people, for example a bunch of nurses I spoke to said that they are not happy going back. So it was a shock…You are trying to evacuate somebody back home and they are saying I am not happy to go back home,” he said.
“When I asked them why, they said we have a very good job here and we are only going back because our parents are crying at home and asking us to come. They wanted to stay back and I am quite sure by now, they must be already back in Yemen,” he said.
“A lot of people have gone back…These are the types of challenges you face where you have to gather people to organise a thing where some are reluctant and some are not,” the Union Minister said.
He said other challenges, included handing over houses where Indians were staying to local people and dealing with instances when there was shortage of food.
“You can imagine the scale of operation when in about 10 days, we did 80 plus sorties to evacuate people,” Singh said.