Saturday, March 5, 2011

All Indians will be brought back from Libya: Centre

NEW DELHI, March 4, 2011

Free journey for them to hometowns from airports

The Union government assured Parliament on Friday that it would make all efforts to bring home all Indians from strife-torn Libya.

Sharing the concerns of members, including those of the Congress, over the condition of Indians stranded, Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs and Civil Aviation Vayalar Ravi said the government would also arrange free air journey for them to their hometowns from airports. If the distance was less than 500 km, they would be sent by rail or road.

Intervening, Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee announced free rail tickets for the repatriates to return to their hometowns.

Mr. Ravi said all arrangements were made last week for evacuating, by ship or flight, Indians desirous of returning home.

In the absence of a bilateral treaty with Libya, only Air India had the right to operate flights from Tripoli, where 10,000 Indians were stranded. Three aircraft of Air India and three more of private carriers were pressed into service to fly Indians to Alexandria. There were an estimated 18,000 Indians in Libya.

As for the problems being faced by the repatriates on landing at the airports without any money, Mr. Ravi said he himself had received them. Everyone was being given food packets, water and soft drinks.

After Congress member Sis Ram Ola raised the issue, other members highlighted the threats Indians received and the problems they faced on landing at the airports in India. Mr. Ola also urged the government to bring back the bodies of those who died in Libya.

In the Rajya Sabha, P. Rajeev of the CPI(M) raised the issue. Members of the Left parties, the BJP, the Samajwadi Party, the AIADMK, the DMK, the Nationalist Congress Party and the BJD joined hands and successfully prevailed upon Deputy Chairman K. Rahman Khan to direct the government to make a statement.

The members accused the government of being slow in its reaction, highlighting that China and the Philippines had already evacuated their citizens

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