‘If you are busy, point us to someone who can help’: Siddaramaiah-Jaishankar clash over stranded tribals in Sudan

A war of words broke out between External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Congress leader Siddaramaiah on Tuesday over the latter’s remarks on 31 tribals from Karnataka stranded in war-torn Sudan.

The heated exchange began when the Congress leader alleged that the government had not intervened to rescue the stranded tribals. “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,” Siddaramaiah tweeted. In response, Jaishankar accused the former Karnataka Chief Minister of politicising the issue.

“It is grossly irresponsible of you to politicize their situation. No electoral goal justifies endangering Indians abroad,” the External Affairs Minister tweeted.

To this, Siddaramaiah retorted, “If you are busy getting appalled please point us to the person who can help us bring our people back”.

The former chief minister  wrote that he had appealed to Jaishankar because of the latter’s designation.

Earlier on Tuesday, in a series of tweets, Siddaramaiah had urged the Government of India to intervene and bring Indians stranded 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. I urge @PMOIndia @narendramodi, @HMOIndia, @MEAIndia and @BSBommai to immediately intervene & ensure their safe return,” he tweeted.

The Hakki Pikkis in Sudan were left stranded without food for the past few days and the government has not yet initiated action to bring them back, he alleged. The leader also sought the Centre’s help to immediately open diplomatic discussions and reach out to international agencies to ensure the well-being of Hakki-Pikkis.

“It is also unfortunate to know that we have lost one Indian & 60 others in the ongoing civil war in Sudan. My deepest condolences to their families and pray for the peace in the region,” he said in his message.

In response to his tweet, Foreign Minister Jaishankar said , “Simply appalled at your tweet! There are lives at stake; don’t do politics.” He also informed that the Embassy of India in Khartoum has been continuously in touch with most Indian Nationals and PIOs in Sudan since the war started on April 14.

The minister added that the details and locations of Indian nationals cannot be made public for security reasons.”It is grossly irresponsible of you to politicize their situation. No electoral goal justifies endangering Indians abroad,” he said.

Fierce fighting has erupted since Saturday between the military and the country’s paramilitary force in Sudan’s Khartoum, where at least 31 tribals from Karnataka are stuck. The Indian embassy issued a fresh advisory on Monday urging Indians not to venture out of their residences and stay calm. An Indian national died in Khartoum after sustaining bullet injuries.

There has been a dispute between the Army and the para-military in Sudan over a proposed timeline for handing over power to a civilian government. At least 185 people have been killed and over 1,800 wounded since fighting erupted. As of Tuesday afternoon, the two sides have agreed to a temporary, 24-hour cease-fire.


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