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Vande Bharat Mission: Nearly 2 lakh register, buy tickets to return home

MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava on Thursday described the mission as the largest and most complex exercise ever undertaken by the government for the repatriation of Indian nationals stranded overseas.

Last Updated: May 15, 2020, 10.28 AM IST
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The foreign ministry has also announced a schedule for 229 repatriation flights until June 3.
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(This story originally appeared in on May 15, 2020)
NEW DELHI: The second phase of Vande Bharat Mission starting May 16 will see India fly 32,000 citizens home, official sources said on Thursday. Until Thursday evening, 12,000 Indians had returned on 56 flights.

The repatriation seems to comprise a little Kashmir outreach as well with the Indian high commission in Dhaka facilitating the return of around 490 Kashmiri students to Srinagar until Wednesday. Another flight is scheduled to fly 150 more to the Valley from Bangladesh next week, just in time for Eid. Most of these students are studying medicine in the neighbouring country. All four repatriation flights to J&K in the first and second phases are from Dhaka.

MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava on Thursday described the mission as the largest and most complex exercise ever undertaken by the government for the repatriation of Indian nationals stranded overseas.

The foreign ministry has also announced a schedule for 229 repatriation flights until June 3. However, with 188,646 registrations for return, the repatriation will likely be a protracted affair. These registrations are by people who haven’t just expressed interest in returning to India but have also completed all formalities and booked their tickets. While many OCIs also want to return, they will have to wait for now.

With these bookings in place, the government will have to operate at least 600-700 more flights, other than those already scheduled, to bring back stranded Indians.

The government is likely to focus on repatriation of Indian nationals first before looking at the issue of OCIs who want to return, sources said. They said the government was also aware of the 200 Indian nationals in Pakistan.

The government also said on Thursday that it was working on Mission Sagar, which has seen India sending naval ship Kesari to Maldives, Mauritius, Madagascar, Comoros and Seychelles. The ship has been sent in response to the request for assistance from these countries. It carries two medical assistance teams, consignment of Covid-19 related essential medicines and food items.

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