The last batch of Indians stuck in Ukraine, where hostilities have surged following Russia’s military operation, has been taken out from the main war zone as part of Operation Ganga, Union Minister Piyush Goyal said on Wednesday.
It were the “bold steps” taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, including his discussions with Russian President Vladimir Putin and other global leaders, that helped achieve this mission, he pointed out.
Addressing a press conference along with information and broadcasting minister Anurag Thakur at the BJP headquarters in Delhi, Goyal said, “Today, we are proud that the last batch (of Indians) has also been taken out from the main war zone and will soon reach in India.”
“It’s a proud moment for India that 20k people have been evacuated by Modi ji in three weeks. This is because of the image of Modi has created impact globally,” he added.
Goyal said that back-to-back meetings were conducted and PM Modi took some bold decisions to ensure the safe return of all Indians.
“PM Modi took bold steps for Operation Ganga. All the government resources were used by PM Modi. Back-to-back meetings were conducted on this (situation). Every individual was taken care of. Modi ji spoke to global leaders 11 times to bring the Indians back. The NGOs, airlines, industry people, different ministries, etc. have given their participation,” he said.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, too, has been working non-stop to ensure all Indians are brought back through safe passages, Goyal said, adding, “Dr S Jaishankar has been working 24 hours. I guess he hasn’t slept for the last few days.”
India, he said, adopted “all possible diplomatic channels” to evacuate Indian citizens from Ukraine. “PM Modi spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.”
While many countries floundered in evacuating citizens from Ukraine, India brought back all its citizens and also evacuated people from Pakistan and Nepal. “India evacuated its citizens through neighbouring nations and people brought their pets back too. We evacuated citizens from Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh as well.”
“All our ministers and official who were there took care of all the tapped individuals there. We also evacuated Pak and Bangladesh nationals,” he added.
BJP workers, he said, also did a tremendous job in the entire mission. They reached out to the family members of those who were trapped in Ukraine, he added.
Reacting to the reports of opposition parties attacking the government for ‘not taking effective steps’ to evacuate Indian students safely from Ukraine, Goyal said, “It is unfortunate that a few Congress leaders and chief ministers have tried to defame the government.”
On Tuesday, more than 600 Indian citizens who were stranded in Ukraine’s Sumy were evacuated.
Students stuck in Sumy had reached out to CNNNews18, News18 and other news agencies as well, urging the government to evacuate them immediately as Russian shelling led to power cuts, water shortage and disruptions to the city’s heating systems. Food and other essential commodities were also scarce as incessant fighting ensured that civilians could not leave bomb shelters.