CM, Cong slam Centre's denial of permission to Kerala minister to visit Kuwait; Guv, Mos Suresh Gopi back it

The state government had decided to send George to Kuwait to help with the relief efforts, the Centre shot down the plan.
Union Minister of State Suresh Gopi paying his last respects to the victims of the fire tragedy in Kuwait.
Union Minister of State Suresh Gopi paying his last respects to the victims of the fire tragedy in Kuwait.Express

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Centre's denial of permission to Kerala Health Minister Veena George to travel to Kuwait to coordinate relief efforts was criticised by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and the Congress-led opposition on Friday, while Governor Arif Mohammed Khan backed the decision.

Khan said that when the bodies of the deceased were being brought on Friday, what would George have achieved by going there on Thursday? "So, if you go yesterday and then come back again today, what will be the actual work which will be done there? Already the government of India ministers were in Kuwait and they were bringing the bodies today.

"So, a few hours are between yesterday and today. What will you achieve there even if you were able to reach there? These things should not be unnecessarily pursued," he said.

Union Minister of State Suresh Gopi paying his last respects to the victims of the fire tragedy in Kuwait.
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Sharing a similar view, Union Minister of State for Tourism and Petroleum Suresh Gopi said there was "no controversy" in the matter.

"People who are at the helm of affairs when it comes to diplomatic transactions and connections are into it. Do not be worried. They are also capable.

"We have our own contingent working there to help the injured Indians. It is the duty of the government of India," Gopi said.

On the other hand, Vijayan was of the view that it was a "wrong stand" on the part of the Centre.

"The minister had come here (Kochi), but could not travel due to a lack of political clearance. I am not raising it as a serious issue presently. It can be discussed later," he said.

The opposition Congress too was of the same view as the CM.

Union Minister of State Suresh Gopi paying his last respects to the victims of the fire tragedy in Kuwait.
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Leader of Opposition in the state assembly V D Satheesan said it was "unfortunate" that the state health minister was not allowed to travel to Kuwait.

"A representative of the state government would have helped to better coordinate the relief efforts. The state's representative would also have been able to help the Union government carry out the relief efforts.

"The Central government ought to have immediately given clearance to the state health minister. It was a wrong message from the Centre's side," he said, criticising the union government's decision.

George, on Thursday night, had said, "What we just sought from the Central government was the permission to travel to Kuwait to stand with our people affected by the tragedy and coordinate activities there. That permission is denied."

The state government had decided to send George to Kuwait to help with the relief efforts, including treatment for the injured and the repatriation of the deceased.

George reportedly waited for hours at the airport, hoping for permission from the Ministry of External Affairs.

Officials had said on Thursday that 49 people were killed in the fire in the Al-Mangaf building on June 12 and 45 of them were Indians; the remaining were Pakistani, Filipino, Egyptian and Nepali nationals.

The building in southern Kuwait's Mangaf area housed around 195 migrant workers.

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