Govt working with Iran to bring home stranded Indians: Jaishankar

S Jaishankar, Minister of External Affairs. Photo: PTI
The government is collaborating with the Iranian authorities to set up a screening process for the return of Indians stranded in Iran in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Sunday.

Jaishankar's assurance came after appeals from several quarters, including Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor for the government's intervention over the issue of stranded Indians there.

"Working on the issue of Indians in Iran anxious to return due to COVID19. Have seen many tweets in this regard. We are collaborating with the Iranian authorities to set up a screening process for return of Indians," Jaishankar said in a tweet.

"Am asking our Ambassador Gaddam Dharmendra to keep all those concerned updated of the progress. Am also tracking this personally," Jaishankar said in the tweet, tagging the Kerala CM office, Office of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E K Palaniswami, Tharoor, NCP leader Supriya Sule and MoS MEA V Muraleedharan .

Earlier, Muraleedharan had said the government has received reports of Indians including fishermen stuck in Iran due to the coronavirus outbreak and the embassy in Tehran is in touch with local authorities on the issue.

Indian envoy to Iran Gaddam Dharmendra had on Saturday said the authorities are working to facilitate the return of Indians who wish to go back home and discussions were underway with authorities.

Several political leaders in Jammu and Kashmir have appealed to the Centre to evacuate the people of the Union Territory, including students, who were stranded in Iran.

Iran's health ministry on Sunday reported 11 new deaths from the novel coronavirus and 385 infections, bringing the overall number of lives lost to 54 and cases to 978.

Earlier, the Indian embassy in Tehran had issued an advisory for Indians residing there and assured them that they were closely monitoring the situation.

India had also issued a travel advisory on February 26 to avoid non-essential travel to Iran due to incidence of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) infections.

In addition, people coming from Iran or having such travel history since 10 February may be quarantined for 14 days on arrival to India, the advisory said.

The National Conference's Member of Parliament from Anantnag Hasnain Masoodi had also said he spoke to the Minister of External Affairs about the safe return of the stranded Kashmiri students in Iran following the outbreak of the deadly virus there.

Former Union minister and senior Congress leader Saif-ud-din Soz and former finance minister Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari had also appealed to the Centre to evacuate the people of Jammu and Kashmir, particularly the students and businessmen, stranded in Iran. 

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