A special Air Force aircraft, which has to fly to Wuhan in China for the evacuation of Indians, is standing at Hindon Air Force Station in Ghaziabad.
The aircraft standing at the Hindon Air Force Station has been loaded with medical equipment.
Beijing is yet to grant clearance to the third flight from New Delhi, which will carry relief supplies to the virus-hit nation and also bring back the remaining Indian nationals from Wuhan, the epicentre of the deadly coronavirus that has killed more than 2,300 people in the East Asian country itself, informed sources told news agency ANI on Saturday.
“Our request for the third flight was submitted on February 13. The flight plan was submitted on February 15. The date of the flight proposed was on February 20. That is five days notice. The delay, therefore, appears to be deliberate,” sources said.
“In between the flights to Japan (February 16), Ukraine (February 19) and France (February 20) have taken off from Wuhan. If the work was not critical enough to stop or delay these flights, how did it suddenly become critical for the Indian flight?” they further questioned.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had recently written to Chinese President Xi Jinping expressing solidarity with the government and people of China in fighting the epidemic outbreak.
India had then also offered to provide assistance to China in the wake of the concerned situation.
The government of India then put together relief supplies in pursuance of this commitment as a token of solidarity, particularly as this year marks the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between India and China.
Meanwhile, Indian nationals, who are stuck in Wuhan, are facing hardships due to the delay in the process and continue to wait for the evacuation flight. The delay in clearance is causing them tremendous mental anguish as the entire Hubei province is still under lockdown.
The sources further added that “Indian nationals are waiting to be brought back from Wuhan. The uncertainty is causing anxiety and mental stress. China should grant clearance to the relief flight which can bring the Indian nationals back.”
Earlier this month, India had evacuated over 650 of its citizens from Wuhan in two 747 Boeing Air India aircraft. Yet, an unknown number of Indians remain in the area and their number is being ascertained, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on Thursday. While 406 of these are being looked after at the quarantine ITBP facility, rest is at an Army centre at Manesar in Haryana.
The Indian Embassy in Beijing estimates more than 50,000 Indian citizens to have been working in mainland China as of early 2019.
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