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IAF avoids Pakistan airspace to bring stranded nationals from countries bordering Ukraine

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date

New Delhi: The Indian Air Force (IAF) has avoided the Pakistan airspace to bring back stranded Indian nationals from countries bordering Ukraine under ‘operation Ganga’ while the war entered eighth day. The IAF till Thursday brought 798 citizens from Hungary, Poland and Romania.

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The force had sent four C-17 transport aircraft on Wednesday to bring back the Indian nationals who had crossed the Ukraine border.

All four transport aircraft returned with the 798 citizens to the Hindon airbase in Uttar Pradesh’s Ghaziabad bordering Delhi on Thursday early morning.

The force has also sent three more aircraft to bring another lot of stranded citizens. The Air Force was called in to augment the commercial flights.

About avoiding the Pakistan airspace, a military source said that the decision was taken by the government not to take any military favour from Islamabad. What it costs is an additional around 30 minutes of travel.

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“To fly military aircraft from any nation’s airspace, there is a requirement of various permissions from that country, so it was decided to avoid it,” source said.

The same aircraft was used to evacuate Indian nationals from Afghanistan after the Taliban took over in August last year.

Under Operation Ganga, India has sent 15 aircraft, both commercial and military, till Wednesday. A total 15 more aircraft are also scheduled to land in India on Thursday.

On Wednesday, the Ministry of External Affairs stated that around 17,000 Indian nationals have left war-torn Ukraine borders since the Indian embassy in Ukraine issued its first advisory.

The ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi had stated, “We now estimate that nearly 17,000 Indian nationals have left Ukraine borders since our advisories were issued in the last week of January.”

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He further said that the embassy in Kyiv has been asked to set up a temporary office in Lviv to facilitate border crossing by the Indian nationals.

He also said that a mechanism has been established for issuing emergency certificates to those who lost their Indian passports which will also help many students.

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