Airlift To 111,711 People Was Evacuated-August 1990

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Airlift To 111,711 People Was Evacuated-August 1990, the 1990 airlift of Indians from Kuwait was carried out from August 13, 1990, to October 20, 1990, after the Invasion of Kuwait.

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Airlift To 111,711 People Was Evacuated-August 1990

Air India helped evacuate 175,000 people by civil airliners. The operation was carried out before the Persian Gulf War in 1990 to evacuate Indian expatriates from Kuwait. Following this operation Air India, the flag carrier Indian airline entered the Guinness Book of World Records for the most people evacuated by a civil airliner.

Mathunny Mathews, Harbhajan Singh Vedi, Abey Varicad, V.K Warrier, Ali Hussain and few others based in Kuwait helped immensely in the evacuation efforts of fellow Indians.
A prominent Indian businessman in Kuwait, Mathunny Mathews, who was instrumental in the safe evacuation of stranded Indians during the Iraqi invasion in 1990, died on Saturday.

Popularly known as ‘Toyota Sunny’, he was said to be the inspiration behind Akshay Kumar’s character in the hit Bollywood film ‘Airlift’. Here are some of the other heroes who worked with Mathews in India’s attempt to airlift 1.7 lakh Indians from Kuwait.

On 2nd August 1990, when Iraq invaded Kuwait at the orders of Saddam Hussain, millions of people were rendered homeless. At that time, Kuwait was home to close to 1,70,000 Indians who suddenly found their lives under threat. The Iraqi army looted the city, and people suffered atrocities at the hands of their soldiers.

Also, read our latest articles on Kuwait-History, Economy, Religion, and Development.

The ground realities were difficult and the government had limited options. A framework of the operation was created through meticulous planning. For almost 59 days, 488 Air India commercial flights flew into the war zone area and carried 1,70,000 Indians back home.
The operation commenced on 14th August 1990 and continued for almost 2 months after finally coming to an end on 11th October.

The invasion of Kuwait started on August 2, 1990, and within two days of combat, most of the Kuwaiti armed forces were either overrun by the Iraqi Republican Guard or fell back to Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. The Emirate of Kuwait was annexed, and Saddam Hussein announced a few days later that it was the 19th province of Iraq. More than 171,000 Indians were stranded on Kuwaiti soil.

Read local language Of Kuwait and other countries

Initial efforts were made by the government of India to evacuate nationals by military aircraft. However, due to difficulties in air-space clearances the switch was made to civilian aircraft. India had initially requested permission to evacuate its citizens by Air India but the request was not approved by the UN and the government of Kuwait in exile.

Also, read The Most Richest Gulf Country- Kuwait

India was required to use planes supplied to them under the UN banner. Complications arose due to the significantly higher number of nationals requiring evacuation, a lack of travel documents and poor communications.

The airlift was completed before the start of Operation Desert Storm. About 111,711 people were evacuated (airlifted) from Amman, Jordan, to Bombay – a distance of 4,117 km (2558 mi) – by Air India, operating 488 flights in association with Indian Airlines, from August 18, 1990, to October 20, 1990 – lasting 63 days.

Buses are also used after winning Baghdad’s approval to ferry Indians through Basra, Baghdad and to Amman in Jordan.

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