The Indian Tricolour Shines again through Operation Kaveri
Samir Bhattacharya, Senior Research Associate, VIF

Fighting broke out in Khartoum and other areas of Sudan early on 15th April, engulfing the capital in turmoil and raising the possibility of a full-scale civil war. Tensions had been rising between General Muhammad Hamdan Dagalo, also known as Hemedti, commander of the paramilitary group Rapid Support Force (RSF), and General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, commander of Sudan's National Army, Sudan Armed Force (SAF), for months. The situation quickly exacerbated as more than 700 people were killed and 4,000 were wounded in the fighting.[1] Additionally, approximately 100,000 people have already fled from Sudan to the neighbouring countries, and another 334,000 people have been displaced within Sudan.[2]

Despite numerous ceasefire declarations, the army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) continue to fight over control of the capital Khartoum. After more than two weeks of conflict, the leaders of the two factions have so far exhibited no visible readiness to engage in any kind of negotiation. Power and water supplies have been failing, companies, banks, and stores across large portions of Khartoum have been robbed or damaged, and locals have complained of excessive price increases and shortages of essential items. Currently, 60 out of Khartoum's 86 hospitals are no longer functional, and 25 of the remaining 26 are only providing partial care.[3] Some of them are also being used as bases by both warring parties.

As the violence intensified in Sudan, India launched 'Operation Kaveri', a major operation by swiftly stationing Indian Naval Ships and Indian Air Force aircraft to evacuate Indians stranded in Sudan. As part of 'Operation Kaveri', India took its citizens in buses from various conflict zones in the capital Khartoum as well as many other conflict-ridden areas to Port Sudan. From Port Sudan, they were taken to Jeddah using both heavy-lift transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force and ships of the Indian Navy. Thereafter, the Indians are flown home from Jeddah via commercial flight or IAF aircraft. In total, fiveships and 13 planes including one from the Wadi Sayyidna military airbase, were used to carry out the operation.[4]

On 23rd April, the first evacuation under Operation Kaveri took place when Indian Embassy arranged six buses to travel from Khartoum to Port Sudan (850 Km).[5] The Indian community of Port Sudan, particularly Comboni School, played a major role in this regard. Indian Embassy developed a temporary Facilitation Centre at the Comboni School where Indian nationals got registered, provided with transit housing and evacuated by air and sea.[6] On 25th April, INS Sumedha brought the first group of 278 stranded Indiansback home.[7] In total, the Indian Embassy mobilised and facilitated the movement of 62 busesfrom various parts of Sudan to reach Port Sudan.[8] It also enabled several other Indians to move to South Sudan, Egypt, Chad and Djibouti.

The Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (the world is one family) policy of the Indian government is based on the notion that the spirit of coexistence is powerful enough to overcome any obstacles of distance. In light of this, India additionally assisted in evacuating residents of friendly countries. The Embassy has provided direction and support for evacuating foreign nationals from Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.[9] India faced enormous risks in its attempt to rescue stranded Indians from Sudan and, before closing Operation Kaveri on 5th May, evacuated as many as 3862 Indians.[10]

Over the past week, different nations have responded in different ways in their attempt to evacuate their residents and embassy staff to safety. The US has faced criticism for evacuating only the 70-odd embassy staff in a helicopter mission by elite SEAL commandos while warning thousands of private American citizens in Sudan that there would be no similar evacuation for them.[11] According to the US government, it is not safe anymore to conduct a US government-coordinated evacuation of private U.S. citizens. Approximately 16,000 Americans with dual US and Sudanese citizenship are believed to be still present in Sudan.[12]

However, unlike the US, many other nations are moving through with the evacuation of their citizens. Among the countries that have evacuated their residents as well as citizens of other nations are France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, Spain, Holland, Turkey, Japan, South Korea, Jordan, South Africa, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. Germany ended its rescue operations after evacuating more than 700 people, including 200 Germans and hundreds more from more than 20 other countries.[13] France had evacuated more than 538 people, of whom 209 were French and 329 from 41 different countries, including 5 Indians.[14] Additionally, France promised to keep a Navy ship at Sudan's main Red Sea port to support ongoing foreign rescue missions. From an airstrip outside of Khartoum, the UK kept up its military evacuations of civilians.

This is not the first time India has displayed such agility in evacuating its citizen. In the recent past, several times Indian citizens have been successfully evacuatedand rescued in times of war, natural disasters, and other tragedies. The Indian government has always been watchful and has moved quickly to ensure the safety of its residents by evacuating them from countries embroiled in war. India has successfully carried out several evacuation operations, whether in Afghanistan or Ukraine, and some of its pilots have even made emergency landings in hostile environments to return stranded Indian citizens to their homes.

The present rescue mission is named Kaveri as a symbolic gesture. One of India's most significant rivers, the Kaveri, passes through the southern states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. People of these regions revere this river as the Goddess and consider it sacred. This operation is dubbed Operation Kaveri to emphasise the significance that rivers achieve their goal despite the obstacles they encounter. In this instance, River Kaveri is portrayed as a mother who will ensure to deliver her kids back home safely.


[1] “Warning of 'protracted' conflict as Sudan fighting rages”. Zawya. May 5, 2023.
[2] “Sudan latest: Over 100,000 have now fled says UNHCR”. UNHCR. May 2, 2023.
[3] “All but one hospital in Sudan’s battle zones closed or operating on ‘very limited capacity’”. Dabanga Sudan. May 1, 2023.
[4] “Operation Kaveri: 3,195 Indians evacuated from Sudan, using 5 naval ships, 13 IAF aircraft”. United News of India. May 5, 2023.
[5] “Op Kaveri: 8 Days, 13 Aircraft And 5 Naval Ships. A Look at India's Massive Evacuation Mission In Sudan”. ABP Live. May 3, 2023.
[6] “Indian Sisters at Comboni School and the Indian community of Port Sudan”. United News of India. May 3, 2023.
[7]Huma Siddiqui. “Operation Kaveri: INS Sumedha sails towards Jeddah with stranded Indian onboard”. Financial Express. April 25, 2023.
[8] “Operation Kaveri: 3195 Indians Evacuated, Embassy Relocated - 10 Key Points You Need to Know”. News 18. May 3, 2023.
[9]Shashank Mattoo. “Operation Kaveri: India evacuates over 3,000 citizens from Sudan”. Live Mint. May 3, 2023.
[10] “India closes Operation Kaveri, 3,862 persons rescued from conflict-torn Sudan”. ANI News. May 5, 2023.
[11]George Petras, Janet Loehrke. “A visual guide to how elite US military forces evacuated US Embassy in Sudan”.USA TODAY. April 24, 2023.
[12] “Why the US evacuation from Sudan left Americans behind”. Al Jazeera. April 27, 2023.
[13] “Germany ends Sudan evacuations, 700 people flown out”. Reuters. April 26, 2023.
[14] “France evacuates 538 people from Sudan, including 5 Indians”. ANI News. April 26, 2023.”

(The paper is the author’s individual scholastic articulation. The author certifies that the article/paper is original in content, unpublished and it has not been submitted for publication/web upload elsewhere, and that the facts and figures quoted are duly referenced, as needed, and are believed to be correct). (The paper does not necessarily represent the organisational stance... More >>

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