OPERATION GANGA: HOW INDIA GOT ITS CITIZENS OUT OF UKRAINE
To have evacuated safely more than an estimated 18,000 Indian nationals from Ukraine amidst the ongoing conflict, is truly a commendable task
New Delhi: To have evacuated safely more than an estimated 18,000 Indian nationals from Ukraine amidst the ongoing conflict, is truly a commendable task. Also, to have done it without much fanfare speaks volumes of the coordination put in by the government of India to ensure swift and speedy evacuation. That is the hallmark of ‘Operation Ganga’, initiated to evacuate all Indian nationals living in Ukraine, but stranded due to ongoing military operations on Ukrainian territory by Russia.
The most important foreign policy priority in the ongoing conflict for India has been the safe and secure evacuation of Indians, both students and other residents alike, to India. Operation Ganga is a combined civil and military effort to ensure all Indian nationals return home safely.
India brought back its nationals from Romania, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and Moldova after they had crossed over to these countries from Ukraine via land border transit points. This process began on February 22. By March 10, more than 80 flights had been operated to rescue stranded Indians.
Initially, India used its fleet available with the civil airlines, but by March 1 the Indian Air Force (IAF) was called in to help; this was the day when an Indian student was killed in Kharkiv. The first flight carrying Indians landed in Mumbai on February 26 and was received by Piyush Goyal, Minister for Commerce and Industry.
Once the IAF got into action, it became possible to increase the effort as the C-17 Globemaster has a capacity to carry 400 passengers. Notably, the C-17 Globemaster not only brought back stranded Indians but also helped to deliver humanitarian aid to Ukraine, which is experiencing a shortage of food, fuel, medical supplies, and other essentials. Just last year, the IAF C-17 helped in evacuating citizens and officials from Kabul when the Taliban captured Afghanistan. Not only has India ensured safety for its citizens but is also helping its neighbours. In a recent video, a student from Pakistan can be seen thanking the Indian embassy in Kiev and Prime Minister Modi.