An Indian rescue team headed by Gen. VK Singh landed in Juba in the first C-17 Globemaster of the Indian Air Force on Thursday as part of the Operation Sankat Mochan. Check-in formalities began at the Indian Embassy before the flights landed there, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted on Thursday.
Operation Sankat Mochan was launched in the early hours of Thursday to rescue the Indians stranded in war-torn South Sudan. Minister of State for External Affairs Gen. VK Singh accompanied the two C17 aircraft of the IAF to Juba.
Swarup tweeted on Wednesday, “The General takes charge again! 2 C-17s proceeding to Juba tomorrow with @Gen_VKSingh leading evac’s from South Sudan.”
Hours later, on Thursday early morning, he tweeted, “#OperationSankatMochan begins at crack of dawn. Two C 17 aircraft leave for Juba with @Gen_VKSingh on board.”
“We’ll make all possible efforts to bring back safely all Indian nationals who are stranded in Sudan,” VK Singh told ANI before leaving for the mission.
Indians with valid documents will be chartered back to the country from the conflict-ridden country on July 14. An MEA advisory issued a day back had directed Indians in South Sudan to get in touch with the embassy there and register themselves. The advisory also said that more flights will be pressed into service if needed.
Actor Akshay Kumar, who was a part of the film “Airlift,” which is about a similar situation where Indians were stranded in Kuwait in the early 1990s, tweeted to Sushma Swaraj, minister of external affairs on Tuesday, requesting her to evacuate the Indians in South Sudan.
We are launching OP #SankatMochan to evacuate Indian nationals from South Sudan. My colleague @Gen_VKSingh is leading this operation. He will be accompanied by Secretary Amar Sinha, JS Satbir Singh, and Director Anjani Kumar. Our Ambassador in South Sudan Srikumar Menon and his team is organizing this operation on the ground. Thanks to my colleague @manoharparrikar and my best wishes to the brave Indian Airforce who are carrying out OP #SankatMochan,” Swaraj tweeted on Thursday morning.
Sankat Mochan, another name for Lord Hanuman, literally means the one who delivers others from trouble.
Around 500 Indians are believed to be stranded in South Sudan, where a threadbare ceasefire is in place.
The two warring factions Sudan People’s Liberation Army in the Government (SPLA-IG) led by President Salva Kiir and Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition (SPLA-IO) led by first Vice President Riek Machar have been in a ceasefire situation since Monday.