First Indian casualty in Lebanon
New Delhi, July 21
Asked if India would lodge a protest against the death of its national, the spokesman said it was “not exactly a diplomatic incident”. In response to a specific question from this correspondent whether India would hold Israel liable for payment of compensation to the next of kin of the victim, the spokesman snapped: “I am reporting to you the fact of an unfortunate death of an Indian citizen in a situation of war. Let us wait to see what happens in terms of completing the formalities of his death. What you are talking of is largely a political question. I do not want to get into this question at the moment.”
Meanwhile, the Indian warship INS Mumbai reached Larnaca, Cyprus, this morning with over 600 evacuees, six of them Nepalese, the Foreign Office spokesman said. He said these people were being brought back through Air India planes back to India. “These planes are likely to land at Chennai, Mumbai and possibly Delhi depending on how many belong to which city.”
Indian Navy spokesman Cdr Vinay Garg had said last evening INS Mumbai had left Beirut for Cyprus with 300 evacuees on board.
Asked for the anomaly in figures and how could a warship accommodate 600 persons when Rear Admiral Pradeep Chauhan had on July 19 said at a press briefing that only 250 to 300 could be accommodated in each of the four warships at hand in Lebanon, Commander Garg admitted there was a mix-up. He said since it was not certain when the next ship could get the berthing facilities, the authorities decided to take as many evacuees on board as possible.
Commander Garg said the helicopters were removed from the deck and put into hangars to make room for the evacuees. The officer replied in the negative when asked by this correspondent whether this move compromised the warship’s fighting capabilities.