New Delhi, Feb 25 (IANS) With the situation in Libya expected to get bloodier in the days to come, India has drawn up elaborate plans to evacuate most of its 18,000 nationals from the North African nation on a war footing by air, sea and land.
A Boeing-747 with a capacity of 350 and an Airbus A-330 with a capacity of around 280-290 will fly out from Mumbai and Delhi respectively in the small hours of Saturday for Tripoli, the Libyan capital. These will be the first of two such daily Air India flights that will operate till March 7, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna said.
The move to send the planes came after Libyan authorities gave clearance for the flights to land in Triploi.
Two Indian Navy ships, the troop carrier INS Jalashwa and a Delhi-class destroyer, are expected to sail from Mumbai Saturday to assist in the evacuation process, a naval officer said. The ships will take 10-11 days to reach Alexandria, government sources told IANS.
Another ship, which has a capacity of around 750, will be deployed to carry Indians from Benghazi to Alexandria, from where they will be flown home, sources said. The Shipping Corporation of India (SCI) is in the process for chartering the ship.
Besides, 200 Indians will cross over by land to Egypt from where they will be flown back to India, the sources added.
Libya has been hit by a wave of anti-government protests seeking the ouster of Muammar Gaddafi, the country’s ruler for over four decades.
Even as the Indian government goes ahead with firming up logistical details of evacuating Indians from Libya, there were reports of “unscrupulous elements” trying to fleece Indians stranded in the country.
Against this backdrop, the external affairs ministry Friday clarified that it was not charging Indian nationals who are being evacuated and stressed that cases of cheating should immediately be brought to its notice.
“It has come to notice that some unscrupulous elements are asking for payments/handling charges/facilitation fee etc., for arranging evacuation of Indian nationals, through the embassy of India in Libya,” the ministry clarified.
“These activities are completely illegal and individuals engaged in them should be immediately reported to the law enforcement authorities,” the ministry said.
“It is further emphasized that no payment or charge of any kind is being levied by the government, for the evacuation/assisted departure of any Indian national in Libya,” the ministry added.