External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Thursday hailed 'Operation Ganga', which facilitated evacuation of Indians from war-hit Ukraine, saying the entire foreign policy apparatus swung into action and included intervention at the highest levels in Russia and Ukraine to ensure ceasefire for safe passage for the nationals.
In his St Stephen's College MRF Distinguished Alumni Annual Lecture, Jaishankar talked about what went on at the diplomatic level to ensure the safe evacuation of Indian nationals from Ukraine.
"Think for a moment as an Indian student who happened to be in Ukraine on the 24th of February this year — concerned about your administrative prospects, you have found yourself in the middle of a serious conflict and it is not just you, it is 20,000 more of your fellow nationals and at the same time there are millions of Ukrainians trying to get out of the country," he said.
Elaborating on the challenges being faced in evacuation, he said internal travel is itself dangerous and complicated, the borders are even more so due to overcrowding and congestion and in the highly impacted cities, there is the physical danger due to shelling and air strikes.
"This is when you really look to your government for support. This is when entire foreign policy apparatus swings into action as it did in Operation Ganga," Jaishankar said.
"It does so by facilitating transport, this included trains and buses, it intervenes at the highest levels in Russia and Ukraine to ensure the ceasing of fire for safe passage, it engages the border authorities to ensure border crossing," he said.
And in extreme cases as in Sumy, it even traverses conflict zones, he added. The evacuation also involves working with neighbouring governments of Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Poland and Moldova to establish transit camps and organise flights for a safe return home.
"Reflect for a moment on these efforts, interventions and the relationships at various levels that have gone into this, starting from the very top. And think of what is needed to make all this happen," the minister said.