ALAPPUZHA: Lending a helping hand to the evacuation of Indian expatriates from San Francisco in Covid-19 hit USA is a Malayali. Vincent Varkey, security and protocol officer of the Indian Consulate General, is a native of Kuttanad and he is in the team of officials tasked with evacuating Indians.
According to Varkey, the consulate made all arrangements to evacuate the first batch of Indians from the US. “The Air India AI 174 flight arrived at San Francisco with a 20- member crew led by Captain Sandeep Bakshi. As many as 217 passengers have been selected from a list of 6,000 for the first flight, which will leave for Mumbai at 11.30 am on Sunday. It is scheduled to arrive at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport at 3.30 am on Monday,” he told TNIE over the phone from SF.
“Among the passengers on board the first flight, there is only one Keralite. The Kozhikode native had arrived in the country on a student visa. The remaining passengers are from Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Karnataka. There will be a connecting flight from Mumbai to Hyderabad on Monday,” said Varkey.
“SF was selected for the first evacuation because the number of Covid cases reported in California state is comparatively less than other states of the US. The state authorities introduced lockdown immediately after the outbreak of the pandemic and that helped to prevent its spread,” he said. Consul general Sanjay Panda and deputy consul general Rajesh Narayan Naik are leading the evacuation drive.
“The consulate hired a medical team to screen passengers outside the airport. Another screening will also be arranged inside the airport by a medical team of the airport authority,” said Varkey. There will be another evacuation flight from SF to Bengaluru via Delhi on May 13. Vincent had worked with the NSG Black Cat Commando wing for more than seven years before being appointed on deputation for the security of embassies. Two years ago, he was posted in San Francisco. He worked as the security guard of Narendra Modi when he was Gujarat chief minister.
He had worked as the PSO of LK Advani for three years when he was the deputy prime minister. “I worked as a security guard of chief ministers Rajnath Singh, Jayalalitha, Karunanidhi, Mayawati, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Farooq Abdulla, Parkash Singh Badal, Bhajan Lal and others,” he said.
The 44-year-old is the son of Vakkachan and Thankamma of Kiliyalamvelil house, Pullangady, Chambakulam, in Kuttanad. He joined Assam Rifles at the age of 18. It was in 2001 that he joined the NSG on deputation. In 2007, he returned to his parent unit and was again appointed on deputation in the External Affairs Department two years ago.