IAF avoids Pakistani airspace to bring in nationals from countries bordering Ukraine
New Delhi: As part of ‘Operation Ganga’, the Indian Air Force avoided Pakistani airspace to bring back stranded Indian nationals from countries bordering Ukraine as the war entered the eighth day. Until Thursday, the Indian Air Force brought in 798 citizens from Hungary, Poland and Romania.
The force had sent four C-17 transport planes on Wednesday to bring back Indian nationals who had crossed the Ukrainian border.
The four transport planes returned with the 798 citizens to Hindon Air Base in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, bordering Delhi, early Thursday morning.
The force also sent three more planes to bring in another batch of stranded citizens. The Air Force was called in to increase commercial flights.
On avoiding Pakistani airspace, a military source said the decision was made by the government not to take military favor from Islamabad. What it costs is about 30 minutes extra ride.
“To fly military aircraft from the airspace of any country, there is a requirement for various clearances from that country, so it was decided to avoid it,” the source said.
The same plane was used to evacuate Indian nationals from Afghanistan after the Taliban took power last August. As part of Operation Ganga, India has sent 15 aircraft, commercial and military, till Wednesday. A total of 15 other planes are also expected to land in India on Thursday.
On Wednesday, the Foreign Ministry said around 17,000 Indian nationals had left Ukraine’s war-torn borders since the Indian embassy in Ukraine issued its first notice.
Ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi said: “We now estimate that almost 17,000 Indian nationals have left Ukraine’s borders since we issued our notices in the last week of January.”
He further said that the embassy in Kyiv has been asked to set up a temporary office in Lviv to facilitate border crossings for Indian nationals.
He also said a mechanism has been put in place to issue emergency certificates to those who have lost their Indian passports which will also help many students.