CHANDIGARH: Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh urged the Union government to take immediate steps to ensure safety of around 10 million Indians in the Gulf region amid escalating US-Iran tension. The chief minister said India could not afford to simply wait and watch, or to just monitor the situation, given the rising stakes in view of the threats and counter-threats between the US and Iran.
Amarinder was responding in the context of the Union ministry of external affairs' statement that it was keeping a close watch on the situation. Indian government should immediately direct its embassies to connect with Indians settled there, and provide all possible help to them, said the chief minister. Pointing out that besides the US, other countries like Britain were preparing to evacuate their citizens, if needed, Singh asked the Centre to also prepare and initiate plans to evacuate all Indians seeking to return home in these circumstances.
The proximity of the Gulf region to the Indian border makes it imperative for the Centre to intervene without delay and issue necessary directions to its missions in the West Asian countries as well as the Indian population there, the chief minister said in an official release. With the conflict showing no signs of easing, the situation is evidently grave and it will be in the interest of the Indians to leave the Gulf region immediately, he added. Referring to the large Punjabi and Sikh diaspora settled in the region, Singh said that his government would extend all support to anyone who wanted a safe return back to the country. Punjab government officials were in direct contact with the community there and had been instructed to move swiftly in response to any plea for help, he added.