Indian Navy Evacuates 685 Stranded Citizens From Sri Lanka

Pre-boarding team, INS Jalashwa, June 1 (Indian MoD)

Published Jun 2, 2020 2:24 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Tuesday, the Indian Navy continued its evacuation program for citizens stranded overseas, deploying the amphib INS Jalashwa to repatriate 685 Indian nationals from Sri Lanka. With this evacuation, the Indian Navy has repatriated nearly 2,200 Indian nationals from the Maldives and Sri Lanka, and the effort continues.

As part of Operation Samudra Setu, INS Jalashwa arrived at Colombo on May 31 and took on passengers June 1. The embarkation of Indian nationals was facilitated by the Indian Mission in Sri Lanka. Evacuees were cleared to board after a medical screening, and COVID-related precautions were enforced during the voyage. Jalashwa arrived at Tuticorin on Tuesday, delivering her passengers in safety. 

The amphib will now depart for the Maldives to repatriate another 700 Indian nationals (in addition to the 1,500 who have already returned by sea). 

An additional 16,000 Indian nationals and about 50 mortal remains have been flown home from the UAE, where hundreds of thousands have been stranded due to coronavirus-related travel shutdowns. At least 350,000 Indians in Dubai and Abu Dhabi have appealed to the Indian government and are awaiting assistance in returning to their home country, according to Gulf News. Initial reports suggested that Indian Navy amphibs would participate in the Persian Gulf region repatriation effort, but in mid-May, Indian ambassador to the UAE Pavan Kapoor said that he had no indication that this was the case.

The INS Jalashwa's latest voyage comes as the Indian Navy is gearing up to respond to Cyclone Nisgara, which is moving north just off India's west coast. Nisgara is expected to strengthen to a severe cyclonic storm within 12 hours, then turn north-northeast and make landfall near the boundary between Maharashtra and Gujarat. and India's coast guard and navy are warning merchant shipping and fishermen to move out of its path or seek shelter.