India likely to operate limited commercial flights from Iran

India is working with Iranian authorities to operate some limited commercial flights for facilitating early return of remaining Indians from coronavirus-affected areas in that country, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar told Parliament on Wednesday.

The Minister also stressed the situation in Italy is a matter of concern and India has started taking steps to meet the challenge.

“Our focus has shifted to Iran in view of the sharp increase of coronavirus cases in that country. As per available information, there are 6,000 Indian nationals in various provinces of Iran. These include about 1,100 pilgrims, mainly from the Union Territories of Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir and Maharashtra,” Jaishankar said in the Rajya Sabha.

He said that nearly 300 students, primarily from Jammu and Kashmir, and about 1,000 fisherman, including those from Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Gujarat and others, are on long-term stay visa in Iran for pursuing their livelihood and religious studies.

After a spike in coronavirus cases in Iran, as a precautionary measure, the government suspended flights between India and Iran temporarily with effect from February 27. “Advisories were issued to avoid travel and returning passengers were screened. This is an ongoing exercise,” he said.

“Our Embassy in Tehran and the consulate in Bandar Abbas and Zahedan naturally reached out to the Indian nationals to ascertain their welfare. An advisery was issued, asking our nationals to observe precautionary measures,” he said.

The Minister said that emergency contact details of the Indian mission were also put out.

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