Tehran - Scores of Kashmiri pilgrims stranded in Iran staged a protest against the alleged failure of Indian government to evacuate them.
Dozens of pilgrims stranded in Iran assembled outside the Indian embassy in Tehran on Thursday and staged a protest against the alleged failure of New Delhi to evacuate them, reports said.
Carrying placards that read “Why is Indian embassy silent?’, ‘2nd class citizens’ ‘Are we not Indian citizens,’ the protesters were seeking immediate evacuation from Iran.
The stranded pilgrims, mostly from Kargil and Leh districts of the newly carved Ladakh union territory, staged protest after the Indian government allegedly failed to duly consider their demand for immediate evacuation.
There are about 6000 Indians including 2,000 pilgrims stranded in Iran. They visited religious shrines in the country but got stuck after Indian government decided to suspend flights and restrict entry from coronavirus-affected Iran.
There are also hundreds of students from India who remain stranded in Iran.
However according to Foreign Minister S Jaishankar, the government’s initial focus is to bring back Indian pilgrims stranded in Iran.
However, according to the protesters in Tehran, the testing process is slow and it could take months for them to be repatriated.
“We are getting frustrated,” one protester said. “Why can’t New Delhi evacuate us first and quarantine us in India as the Chinese are doing?
Following the protest, Indian ambassador in Iran Dhamu Gaddam said that three flights have been scheduled to take stranded Indian pilgrims back home.
“To assure all that our efforts ongoing. Arrangements made for another group of 120 stranded pilgrims to leave for India tomorrow Friday. A third flight is being prepared and is scheduled for departure Saturday,” Gaddam Tweeted earlier.
Early Friday, Jaishankar announced the arrival of second batch of Indian pilgrims from Iran.
“Second batch of 44 Indian pilgrims has arrived today from Iran. Our efforts to bring back the others continue. And our medical team - keep up the good work. Appreciate the support of Iranian authorities and their airlines,” he tweeted
Iranian health authorities said on Thursday that 10,075 people were confirmed positive for coronavirus in the country since the infection was detected on February 19.
A total of 429 have died of the virus while the number of people released from hospitals after recovering from the illness has surpassed 3,000.
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