LEH: The second batch of 225 pilgrims who had returned from Iran reached here on Wednesday in a special Indian Air Force plane after undergoing quarantine in Rajasthan, officials said.
The returnees, 208 hailing from Kargil and 17 from Leh, were airlifted from Jodhpur to Leh and were subjected to screening by a medical team on their arrival at Leh airport, the officials said.
They were evacuated from coronavirus-hit Iran by a special plane on March 25 and were put under quarantine at various facilities in Rajasthan.
This was the second batch of the pilgrims who reached the Union Territory of Ladakh within two days.
On Tuesday, the first batch of 57 pilgrims was airlifted from Hindon in Uttar Pradesh to Kargil.
However, the returnees would not immediately join their families as the authorities have decided to put them under a 14-day institutional quarantine at Leh and Kargil towns as a precautionary measure.
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The UT administration has thanked the Centre, the army and the IAF for prompt consideration of the request for evacuation of the pilgrims from Iran and subsequently to Ladakh, the officials said.
While nearly 600 pilgrims from Ladakh were evacuated from Iran in March, there are still about 300 more pilgrims who are stranded in the foreign country and 250 of them were reported to have tested positive for coronavirus.
Meanwhile, senior BJP leader and MP Ladakh Jamyang Tsering Namgyal welcomed the return of the stranded pilgrims.
"It shows the presence of good governance from Kargil to Kanyakumari under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi," he said.
The MP praised the Modi-led government and Home Minister Amit Shah for their active consideration of the plea made by the stranded pilgrims and their family members through him for their evacuation from Iran to their home country in a very short span of time.
Namgyal also extended his gratitude to Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, Minister for Health and Family Welfare Harsh Vardhan, Lt Governor of Union Territory of Ladakh R K Mathur and all the concerned officials as well as the Administration of Ladakh for all possible care and support in the evacuation of the stranded pilgrims.
The MP said he was in constant touch with all the concerned officials pursuing the case of evacuation of the remaining pilgrims from Iran to India at the earliest besides the evacuation of others including patients and students from Ladakh who are stuck in different parts of the country.