The Indian government led by Narendra Modi has faced considerable criticism for not evacuating its own citizens stranded in Sudan. The topic has become a big election issue in Karnataka as the Congress slammed the Modi government for inaction. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has come to the rescue of some of the Indians as the Royal Saudi Naval Forces said they had evacuated many people from India.
In a statement, the Saudi foreign ministry said that the Islamic Kingdom’s armed forces had rescued 66 nationals from friendly countries including India.
“In the implementation of the directives of the Kingdoms Leadership, we are pleased to announce the safe arrival of the citizens of the Kingdom who were evacuated from the Republic of Sudan as well as several nationals of brotherly and friendly countries, including diplomats and international officials, who arrived in an evacuation operation carried out by the Royal Saudi Naval Forces with the support of various branches of the armed forces,” the statement from the Saudi foreign ministry said.
It added, “The number of citizens who were evacuated reached 91 citizens, while the number of people who were evacuated from brotherly and friendly countries reached approximately 66, representing the following nationalities (Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Tunisia, Pakistan, India, Bulgaria, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Canada, and Burkina Faso). The Kingdom worked to provide all the necessary needs of foreign nationals in preparation for their departure to their countries.”
#Statement | In the implementation of the directives of the Kingdom's Leadership, we are pleased to announce the safe arrival of the evacuated citizens of the Kingdom from Sudan and several nationals of brotherly & friendly countries, including diplomats & international officials pic.twitter.com/Eg0YemshYD
— Foreign Ministry 🇸🇦 (@KSAmofaEN) April 22, 2023
Only a few days ago, former Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had launched a scathing attack on the Modi government for not evacuating 31 people from Karnataka belonging to Hakki Pikki tribe, currently stranded in Sudan.
He tweeted, “Hakki Pikkis in Sudan are left stranded without food since the last few days & the govt is yet to initiate action to bring them back.
@BJP4India govt should immediately open diplomatic discussions & reach out to international agencies to ensure the well-being of Hakki Pikkis.”
In his subsequent tweet, the former chief minister had written, “It is also unfortunate to know that we have lost one Indian & 60 others in the ongoing civil war in Sudan. My deepest condolences to their families and pray for the peace in the region.”
Embarrassed by mounting criticism ahead of crucial elections in Karnataka, Indian Foreign Minister S Jaishankar had angrily replied to Siddaramaiah, “Simply appalled at your tweet! There are lives at stake; don’t do politics. Since the fighting started on April 14th, the Embassy of India in Khartoum has been continuously in touch with most Indian Nationals and PIOs in Sudan.”
Simply appalled at your tweet! There are lives at stake; don’t do politics.
Since the fighting started on April 14th, the Embassy of India in Khartoum has been continuously in touch with most Indian Nationals and PIOs in Sudan. https://t.co/MawnIwStQp
— Dr. S. Jaishankar (@DrSJaishankar) April 18, 2023
Siddaramaiah had replied, “Since you are the External Affairs Minister @DrSJaishankar I have appealed you for help. If you are busy getting appalled please point us to the person who can help us bring our people back.”
Meanwhile, the fighting in the Sudanese capital has become intense and the Khartoum’s international airport has been closed.
The civil war erupted in Khartoum on 15 April following disagreements between the leaders of both sides, the regular army and a paramilitary force called the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) over how Sudan should be run. While the regular army is headed by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, General Mohamed Hamdan “Hemedti” Dagalo is leading the RSF.