One direct telephone call from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Saudi King in 2015 ended up being a decisive game changer and assisted in a huge evacuation of Indians and foreigners stranded in war-torn Yemen, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj stated today. ‘Operation Rahat’ was launched by Indian Armed Forces to leave more than 4,000 Indian people and other foreign nationals from Yemen during the 2015 military intervention by Saudi Arabia and its allies. The 11-day evacuation by sea began on April 1, 2015 from Aden port. Addressing the Indian diaspora at the ASEAN-India Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) here, Swaraj stated that relentless Saudi bombing of Yemenese places had made evacuation of Indian civilians beside impossible. She offered a blow-by-blow account of how the ‘Operation Rahaat’ in Yemen was effectively performed. Swaraj stated that she approached Modi and suggested that the exceptional connection he took pleasure in with Saudi King (Salman) be put to good use. Modi then made a direct phone call to the King in Riyadh, requesting a safe passage for Indian nationals and evacuation efforts and looked for a stop in battles for a week, she said.According to Swaraj,
the Saudi King responded that India’s demand was too important to be disregarded however also expressed his failure in bringing about an overall stop to the bombings. The Saudi King, due to the relationship with Modi, consented to halt bombings between 9 AM and 11 AM everyday for a week, the minister stated. Seizing the opportunity, Swaraj claimed that she requested the Yemenese authorities to open their Aden port and airport in Sanaa, so that civilians could be evacuated to Djibouti with alacrity for 2 hours daily for a week. “Yemenese informed me they will do anything for the Indians,” Swaraj said, dealing with the event of over 3000 individuals, mostly coming from the Indian diaspora, in the presence of Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean.This coordination set in movement a critical evacuation exercise of not just 4,800 Indians but likewise 1,972 individuals from other countries in ‘Operation Rahat’ which was led from the front by Minister of State for External Affairs and previous army chief General (retired) VK Singh, she added.