NEW DELHI: Amidst the coronavirus crisis and the government's efforts to bring bank Indians from the severely affected countries, Tehran-based Mahan Air on Sunday offered to bring all Indians stranded in Iran back to their homeland without "any commercial interest".
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the airline's MD Hamid Arabnejad said that around 7,000 Indian nationals have been stranded across various locations in Iran.
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"In this regard, I, on behalf of Mahan Air, hereby, offer to safely repatriate all India nationals stranded in Iran back to their country without any commercial interest as a humanitarian initiative for our Indian brethren," he said in the letter dated March 15.
He added that there are many stranded Indians who are either students or pilgrims and do not have sufficient means to make alternative arrangements.
Assuring that the Mahan Air will deploy appropriate aircraft to ferry the stranded Indians and land at suitable designated international airport in India, the MD, urged the government of India to grant the required permissions.
The letter mentioned that the Directorate General of Civial Aviation (DGCA) has suspended operations of Iranian carriers to India du to health safety reasons and the airline duly abides by the norms, but noted that the suspension of operations has Indian stranded in Iran.
The letter to PM Modi said that as so many people are in distress and "your government and our government is making appropriate efforts to evacuate its nationals as many Iranian nationals are also currently stranded in India too."
"At the same time I have learnt that Indian carriers are hesitant to evacuate the stranded Indian from Iran due to illegal and unwanted sanctions imposed by USA. My learned brother from India, Imran Reza Ansari, former minister, Jammu & Kashmir along with several Indian residents here have been constantly following up and seeking my help."
The airline already flew back two hundred and thirty-four Indians from Iran and the flight landed at the Jaisalmer on Sunday morning.
"A total of 234 Indians stranded in Iran have arrived in India; including 131 students and 103 pilgrims. Thank you Ambassador Dhamu Gaddam and @India_in_Iran team for your efforts. Thank Iranian authorities," External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar tweeted.
The Minister said that the batch comprises 131 students and 103 pilgrims.This is the third batch of Indians evacuated from Iran. A second batch of 44 Indian pilgrims had arrived from Iran on Friday. The first batch of 58 Indian pilgrims were brought back from Iran on Tuesday.
Iran is one of the worst COVID-19-hit countries from where Indian government has been trying to evacuate Indians.
COVID-19 has been declared a pandemic by the WHO and a large number of Indian stranded in Corona-affected countries like Italy, Iran are being evacuated by the Government.
The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in India has crossed 100 and two deaths have been reported in the country so far.