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MEA has set up 24x7 helpline for Indians abroad: Centre tells Delhi HC

The Central government on Friday informed the Delhi High Court that the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has established a 24/7 helpline to address the queries by Indian students and community abroad.

ANI | New Delhi | Updated: 03-04-2020 22:33 IST | Created: 03-04-2020 22:33 IST
MEA has set up 24x7 helpline for Indians abroad: Centre tells Delhi HC
Representative Image. Image Credit: ANI

The Central government on Friday informed the Delhi High Court that the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has established a 24/7 helpline to address the queries by Indian students and community abroad. The High Court was hearing a petition filed by Ramesh Chander Goyal, seeking a direction to the respondent -- Government of India -- to evacuate the son of the petitioner from Edinburgh, Scotland, to India and ensure that he is provided with all medical facilities if required. The son of the petitioner is pursuing some academic course in Edinburgh.

Advocate Amit Mahajan, the Central Government Standing Counsel, filed the status report of the Ministry of External Affairs through email. It is stated by the Ministry of External Affairs that a 24x7 helpline has been set up to address the queries by Indian students and the Indian community abroad. It is stated that the Government of India along with the Government of United Kingdom have actively disseminated, through website and social media platforms, necessary information to all citizens of India. The government told the court that an officer of the Consulate General of India, Edinburgh, had personally contacted the son of the petitioner through telephone and he has been provided with the necessary information regarding helpline numbers, emergency telephone numbers, website, e-mail and social media links of the High Commission of India at London and Consulate General of India, Edinburgh.

The status report of the Ministry of External Affairs also stated that the son of the petitioner had informed that presently he was not facing any health issues and was primarily concerned about coming back to India. He had informed that he was presently sharing the accommodation with one more student. The MEA in its report also said the son of the petitioner has been advised to register with the High Commission of India at London so that necessary updates and travel advisories could be shared with him. Emergency number of an officer of the Consulate General of Edinburgh has been shared with him and he has been advised to contact him in case of any emergency.

The petitioner told the court that his son has informed that there is a shortage of masks and sanitizers there and he has not been able to acquire the same from the market. The Central Government Standing Counsel submitted that there is a shortage of masks and sanitizers in Scotland and the UK, and even the Consulate has not been able to procure the same from the market. However, efforts are being made by the Consulate General of India to procure and provide the same as soon as possible.

The government also informed the court that there are few volunteers in Edinburgh who have offered help in case of any necessity. The status report assures that the Consulate General of India at Edinburgh is working to help the stranded Indians through student's associations, community groups and individuals by providing all possible assistance in the form of accommodation, food, etc., to all Indian citizens in Scotland. The Indian National Students Association (UK) and the High Commission of India are working closely to address the specific issues of Indian students across the UK during the COVID-19 crisis.

With regard to evacuating the son of the petitioner, the government said that in the present lockdown situation it is not possible for the Ministry to organise any evacuation of Indian nationals from any country at this stage and the Indian government has taken pro-active steps to ensure that all citizens of India, particularly students who are residing abroad do not face any problem and all possible necessary steps are being taken. A Division Bench of Justices Sanjeev Sachdeva and Navin Chawla disposed of the plea of Goyal, saying that in view of the status report and the assurance is given that all possible necessary help shall be provided to all Indian students who are stranded abroad, the court feels that no further orders are called for in this petition. (ANI)


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