Special AI plane to bring back stranded Indians

Written by Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi | Updated: Feb 1 2011, 04:28am hrs
After maintaining cautious diplomatic silence for the last couple of days, New Delhi on Sunday expressed concern at the protests in Egypts streets and hoped for an early and peaceful resolution.

Meanwhile, the government has made arrangements to send a special Air India flight to carry 300 Indians mainly women and children from Cairo to India.

We are closely following with concern, the developments in Egypt. India has traditionally enjoyed close and friendly relations. We hope for an early and peaceful resolution of the situation without further violence and loss of lives, said Vishnu Prakash, the official spokesperson of the MEA, in a statement on Sunday.

This comes days after senior government officials said that India would be a voice of moderation and was watching the situation carefully.

Our Ambassador to Egypt, R Swaminathan, is in close contact and had discussions with me twice since last night, External affairs minister SM Krishna told reporters in Bangalore on Sunday. He said the envoy informed him that all Indians were safe.

The government of India will safeguard and provide adequate help if any of them would like to come back, said Krishna.

The arrangement for the special Air India flight was made at the request of some of the Indians living in Egypt, said officials. The government decided to send a special flight since flight schedules in and out of Egypt have been disrupted for the last couple of days.

According to the MEA, there are about 3,600 PIOs (Person of Indian Origin) in Egypt, of which about 2,200 are in Cairo. On Saturday, the MEA had issued an advisory asking Indians to avoid all non-essential travel to Egypt. The embassy has also set up a control room in Cairo, for which the numbers are 00202-27360556, 00202-27360052, 00202-27356168.