General VK Singh leads Operation Sankat Mochan to rescue Indians

14 Jul 2016 | Written by Ramya ; Edited by Gaurav

Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh left for civil war stricken South Sudan to lead the Indian government's 'Operation Sankat Mochan' and rescue 600 Indians.

The MEA's Economic Relations Secretary-Amar Sinha, Joint Secretary-Satbir Singh, and Director Anjani Kumar accompanied VK Singh.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj stated that the Indian embassy in South Sudan was organizing the operation on the ground.

In context: Indian government launches Operation Sankat Mochan!

IntroductionWorld's youngest nation and its internal conflicts

South Sudan became independent on 9 Jul'11.

It is one of the most under-developed nations, having been embroiled in years of civil war.

The fight between government and opposition troops began in Dec'13; President Salva Kiir alleged it was a coup attempt by Vice-President Riek Machar to gain power.

Since 2013, millions fled their homes because of the violence caused by the fighting.

July 2016Latest bout of violence in Juba

On 7 Jul'16, heavy gunfights erupted outside the South Sudanese Presidential palace; President Salva Kiir and First Vice-President Riek Machar were discussing clashes between their forces.

Kiir allegedly tried to arrest Machar as his troops opened fire on Machar's bodyguards; over 150 people were dead.

On 11 Jul'16, the South Sudanese Independence day, Kiir ordered a ceasefire and directed commanders to stop all hostilities.

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Indians in South SudanIndian government monitors developments in South Sudan

Only a day after the fifth South Sudanese independence anniversary, heavy gunfire exchange between government soldiers and rebels erupted in South Sudan's capital Juba.

The Indian government was constantly in touch with the Indian embassy amid the violence.

The External Affairs Ministry said there were 600 Indians in South Sudan; 450 of them were in Juba while 150 were outside the capital city.

Rescue OperationIndian Embassy and MEA discuss options to rescue Indians

On 11 July, the Indian embassy in Juba assured Indians that they were in touch with the External Affairs Ministry, and options to rescue them were being considered.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj asked them not to panic and await further inputs/developments from the Indian embassy.

She urged them to enroll themselves with the Indian Embassy, following which over 300 Indians registered themselves.

VK Singh to take charge

On 13 Jul'16, MEA Spokesperson Vikas Swarup stated that Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh would take charge to evacuate Indians from South Sudan. In 2015, Singh led the evacuation operation to rescue over 4,000 Indians stranded in Yemen.

14 Jul 2016General VK Singh leads Operation Sankat Mochan to rescue Indians

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Rescue operation to begin at the crack of dawn

Earlier today, Spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs Vikas Swarup tweeted, "#OperationSankatMochan begins at the crack of dawn. Two C 17 aircraft leave for Juba with @Gen_VKSingh on board."

Airlift OperationIAF to airlift 600 stranded Indian nations

Sushma Swaraj said Srikumar Menon, India's Ambassador to South Sudan, and his team were organizing the evacuation operation.

Swaraj expressed gratitude to Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar for supporting the operation by providing two C-17 Globemaster heavy-life aircraft.

Indians with valid travel documents would be allowed to board the aircraft, expected to land in Juba at 11 am (local time), to return to New Delhi.

Embassies, Aid OrganizationsEvacuating people amid ceasefire

Aid organizations and embassies in Juba are working to evacuate staff amidst ceasefire ordered by South Sudanese President Salva Kiir on 11 Jul'16.

The United States Military in Africa deployed around 40 additional soldiers in the war-torn capital to help secure the US personnel and facilities there.

The United Nations stated over 36,000 civilians in South Sudan fled their homes because of the violence.

15 Jul 2016First Indian evacuees arrive in Kerala

The first 156 Indians from over 600 who were stranded in civil-war torn South Sudan arrived on board a C17 Globemaster in Kerala today.

Of the 156, 46 were Keralites, 2 were Nepalese nationals and 9 were women and children.

A majority of those in the first C17 were from south India. Officials said a second plane was enroute and would land in Delhi.