Former Karnataka CM’s Appeal for Rescuing 31 Stranded in Sudan Gets Jaishankar’s ‘Political’ Reply

Siddaramaiah tweeted that 31 people from Karnataka belonging to Hakki Pikki tribe are stranded in Sudan. Stating that “lives were at stake”, the external affairs minister responded that he was “simply appalled” at the Congress leader's tweet.

New Delhi: After Karnataka opposition leader Siddaramaiah appealed to the Union government to rescue 31 members of a tribal community who are in Sudan, Indian external affairs minister S. Jaishankar urged him to not politicise the situation, which he said was “very complicated”.

Earlier in the day, former chief minister and Congress leader Siddharamiah tagged PM Narendra Modi, BJP leader Basavaraj Bommai and the Union home and external affairs ministries in a tweet that a group of Kannadigas from the semi-nomadic Hakki Pakki tribe were marooned in Sudan. 

“It is reported that 31 people from Karnataka belonging to Hakki Pikki tribe, are stranded in Sudan which is troubled by civil war. Hakki Pikkis in Sudan are left stranded without food since the last few days & the govt is yet to initiate action to bring them back. @BJP4India govt should immediately open diplomatic discussions & reach out to international agencies to ensure the well-being of Hakki Pikkis,” the Congress veteran posted in a tweet thread.

With state assembly polls around three weeks away, the Congress leader was clearly hoping to corner the state ruling party through his appeal.

Several hours later, Indian external affairs minister S. Jaishankar replied to Siddharamiah that it was “grossly irresponsible of you to politicise this situation”. “No electoral goal justifies endangering Indians abroad,” he said.

Jaishankar noted that due to the “fierce fighting” in Khartoum, their movement was limited. “Plans regarding them have to take into account a very complicated security scenario”.

Stating that “lives were at stake”, Jaishankar wrote that he was “simply appalled” at Siddaramaiah’s tweet.

“Since the fighting started on April 14th, the Embassy of India in Khartoum has been continuously in touch with most Indian Nationals and PIOs in Sudan. Their details and locations cannot be made public for security reasons,” he wrote.

Later, Siddaramaiah shot back at Jaishankar, tweeting that he had appealed to the external affairs minister for help. “If you are busy getting appalled please point us to the person who can help us bring our people back,” the Congress leader said.

The Indian embassy in Sudan issued another advisory on Tuesday that due to looting, Indian nationals should not venture out. “Please ration your supplies. The situation may continue for a few more days. Please try to take help from your neighbours. Please stay at home and remain safe”.

An Indian national, a native of Kerala, died on Sunday when a stray bullet hit him after he reportedly opened a window to get better phone reception.

The Indian embassy estimates that the Indian community in Sudan comprises approximately 4,000 individuals, including 1,200 people of Indian origin whose families have resided in the North African nation for around 150 years.

There has been intense fighting between the Sudanese military and the paramilitary Rapid Support Force (RSF) since Saturday, which has resulted in an estimated death toll of at least 185, and approximately 1800 others have been wounded.

Sudan’s military chief Abdel-Fattah Burhan ousted long-standing ruler Omar al-Bashir from power in April 2019. However, 18 months later, the military and the RSF carried out another coup, hindering Sudan’s transition to civilian rule. 

Initially, differences emerged between Burhan and RSF head General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo regarding the integration of the RSF into the regular army. This disagreement has now escalated into physical fighting over the past four days.

On Monday, a US diplomatic convoy was fired upon by fighters affiliated with RSF. On the same day, European Union’s envoy to Sudan was “assaulted” in his residence.

As per reports, both sides agreed to a 24-hour truce beginning Tuesday evening to allow the citizens of the Sudanese capital to leave their houses to get essential commodities and medical treatment. It has been reported that residents have been stranded inside their homes without electricity and water for days.

Note: Siddaramaiah’s response to Jaishankar was added to this article after it was published.