nCoV: Guj urges Centre to evacuate 340 fishermen stuck in Iran

Gandhinagar, Feb 28 (PTI) The Gujarat government has requested the Centre to evacuate 340 Indian fishermen, mostly from the state, who are stranded at a port in Iran after the authorities there have shut the nearby airports and barred people's movement due to the coronavirus scare.

Gujarat minister Raman Patkar has e-mailed a letter to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Thursday, urging him to bring back the fishermen.

Patkar, who represents Umargam seat of Valsad district, said these fishermen are stuck at Bandar-e-Chiru of Hormozgan Province in Iran and could not return to India as Iranian authorities have sealed the airports and not allowing people to go out of the country.

In the e-mail, Patkar, who is Minister of State for Forest and Tribal Affairs, said he learnt about the ordeal after some fishermen belonging to his constituency called him.

'Due to coronavirus infection scare, around 340 fishermen, mostly from Gujarat, are stuck at Bandar-e-Chiru of Iran as they are not allowed to go out of the country. They have made a request for necessary arrangements for their return. My humble request to do needful for the same,' his letter reads.

Talking to PTI, Patkar said that many of the stranded fishermen are from Umargam and other surrounding villages of Valsad.

'While most of these 340 men are from Gujarat, some of them are from other states, like Tamil Nadu. After getting a call from a stranded fisherman, I have written to S Jaishankar to make necessary arrangements to bring them back, as these fishermen are not allowed to go out of the country and airports are also sealed off,' the BJP leader said.

Ganesh Tandel, one of the stranded fishermen, said that he and his colleagues worked in Iran on contract and reached that country via Dubai.

'We first reached Dubai on a flight from Mumbai and then Iranian authorities arranged our visa from Dubai to Bandar-e-Chiru, where we are supposed to do fishing for the Iranian contractors,' Tandel told PTI over phone.

'But due to the coronavirus scare, Iranian authorities are not letting us go and they have shut the airports. All the flights from Iran are cancelled. We are struck here and need help,' he added. PTI PJT PD NP NP