आईपीएस अफसर अमिताभ ठाकुर ने आज विदेश सचिव डॉ एस जयशंकर से 1990 में इराक द्वारा कुवैत हमले के बाद भारतियों को कुवैत से भारत लाये जाने के अभियान में भारत सरकार द्वारा किये गए महत्वपूर्ण प्रयासों पर एक श्वेतपत्र जारी करने का अनुरोध किया है, जिसमे विशिष्ट भूमिका निभाने वाले कुछ अफसरों का विशेष रूप से उल्लेख हो. उन्होंने एयरलिफ्ट फिल्म के निर्माता निर्देशक को भी फिल्म में यह स्पष्ट अंकित करने के निर्देश देने को कहा है कि इसमें भारत सरकार की प्रतिक्रिया ऐतिहासिक रूप से सत्य नहीं है और मात्र कल्पना की उड़ान है.
अमिताभ ने कहा कि एयरलिफ्ट फिल्म से ऐसा प्रतीत होता है जैसे विदेश मंत्रालय इस पूरी प्रक्रिया के दौरान पूरी तरह निष्क्रिय था और इसके अफसरों की भूमिका अत्यंत नकारात्मक थी जो सही नहीं जान पड़ता है. उन्होंने कहा कि विदेश मंत्रालय के प्रवक्ता विकास स्वरुप ने इस सम्बन्ध में कुछ प्रतिक्रिया दी है लेकिन निद्रेशक राजकृष्ण मेनन के अभी ही फिल्म के सत्यपरक होने के दावे के कारण वह पर्याप्त नहीं जान पड़ता. अतः उन्होंने फिल्मों के व्यापक प्रभाव के मद्देनज़र इस ऐतिहासिक और व्यापक ऑपरेशन पर एक श्वेतपत्र जारी किये जाने का अनुरोध किया है.
White Paper on Kuwait Operation, direction to Airlift director urged
IPS officer Amitabh Thakur today wrote to Foreign Secretary Dr S Jaishankar requesting him to issue a short White Paper on the evacuation of Indians from Kuwait after Iraq attack in 1990 presenting the various efforts taken by the Government of India to get the Operation done successfully, along with acknowledging the role of few of the more prominent officials who made their remarkable contribution during the process. He also requested to direct the Producer and Director of Airlift to clearly state in the film that the portrayal of Government response is not historically correct and is nothing more than flight of imagination.
Amitabh said that the film Airlift gives an impression that the entire External Affairs ministry was completely defunct during this process and its response was abysmally poor, which does not seem to be true. He also said that External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup has given some response to the film but it does not seem adequate, more so in light of director Raja Krishna menon still insisting that the depiction is in essence truth. Hence he has requested that given the huge mass impact of films, a definite White paper must be issued on this historic and massive operation.
The Foreign Secretary,
Ministry of External Affairs,
Government of India,
Sub- Request for White Paper on Kuwait evacuation
I, Amitabh Thakur, a UP Cadre IPS officer, present this representation in my individual capacity as a citizen of this Nation---
1. That recently released Indian film Airlift, directed and scripted by Sri Raja Krishna Menon, allegedly presents the story of the biggest civil operation of evacuation of Indians based in Kuwait during the Iraq-Kuwait war.
2. That the film presents that after the Kuwait attack by Iraq, the Indian Embassy gets immediately evacuated in a most unexplainable and discernible manner. It also shows External Affairs Ministry, the Minister and other officials being completely oblivious of the problems being faced by the Indians in Kuwait. It shows them giving a very knew-jerk and insipid reaction
3. That after watching the film, the following sets of opinion finally emerge- (a) The Indians living in Kuwait were left completely in lurch by the Government of India (b) The Government of India showed least interest in the matter (c) The entire External Affairs Ministry was completely oblivious of the matter, as if it had nothing to do with it (d) The matter was brought to notice of the Ministry only when an Indian in Kuwait actually contacted the Ministry through a Joint Secretary (e) Even after this intimation, the Government and its functionaries remained the most reluctant and it was only the sheer spirit of an individual who forced a few Government servants to undertake some of their responsibilities to finally manage this evacuation
4. That in short, the film shows the Government of India, specially the External Affairs Ministry and its then Minister and officials in an extremely poor light.
5. That to the best of my thinking and understanding, such a thing would possibly not have happened because 1.7 lakh Indians would not have been left in lurch by the Government just like that, as if even the Minister does not have basic information or concern about it. The portrayal prima-facie seems extremely disturbing and objectionable.
6. That in response to the film, Sri Vikas Swarup, Spokesperson for MEW has tweeted through his official twitter handle https://twitter.com/meaindia?lang=en on 28/01/2016-“Great entertainment but rather short on facts :) Here's our take” along with a 1.46 minutes Video. The Video presents three main points- (a) The ministry of external affairs considers the protection of Indian citizens abroad as among its foremost responsibilities, which it has done in the past and would do in the future (b) This is a film and has also taken a lot of artistic liberties in the depictions of the events that actually happened in Kuwait in 1990 (c) Very proactive role was played by the ministry of external affairs in the 1990 evacuation, when Official Indian delegation was sent to Baghdad and Kuwait and coordination was put in place with the civil aviation ministry, Air India and a number of other government departments.
7. That Sri Swarup has also given link to Indian Foreign Affairs Journal Vol. 7, No. 1, January-March, 2011, 93-107 titled “Biggest Ever Air Evacuation in History” having interview of Sri K.P. Fabian, Head of the Gulf Division of the Ministry of External Affairs at that time.
8. That after this official response, Sri Menon, through his Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Raja-Krishna-Menon-225162107823215/ has responded on 03/02/2016 where among other things he said-“I started researching the story in 2003, and realised there was very little documented evidence available so I started speaking to the people involved. XXXX To research this very limitedly documented event, we spoke to hundreds of survivors, people who were stuck in Kuwait and then evacuated, pilots and air staff who flew the rescue missions, the businessmen and their families who are celebrated in the film, and many others.” Hence he concluded-“The story we have told is a fiction based on true events. Others involved may perhaps have other narratives but our narrative is one that we arrived at from the stories of the many we interviewed. It is from these stories that I know without a shadow of doubt that what we have depicted in the film might well be taking artistic liberties but is in essence the truth.”
9. That even the film poster says-“Based on a True event”
10. That summing it up-(a) Airlift has definitely presented the Ministry of External Affairs response during Kuwait episode in an extremely poor light (b) The Film states again and again that it is based on true events (c) Even the director is quite unapologetic to say that the film in essence depicts the truth (d) Whatever efforts have been made by the Ministry through Sri Vikas Swarup’s tweet and/or video and the attached article do not seem to sufficiently wash away the ill-impact ion the reputation and credibility of the Ministry’s functioning and response (e) There seems to be a definite need for the Ministry to clear the air about the Kuwait evacuation operation and not to leave it to the people to study the matter/history on their own as Sri Swarup has stated in the video
11. That in view of the above facts and considering the mass-impact of films on public opinion, the applicant makes the following prayer
1. To kindly issue a short White Paper on the evacuation of Indians from Kuwait after Iraq attack in 1990 whereby presenting the various efforts taken by the Government of India to get the Operation done successfully, along with acknowledging the role of few of the more prominent officials who made their remarkable contribution during the process
2. To kindly direct the Producer and Director of Airlift to make it clear in the film in no uncertain terms that the portrayal of the Ministry of external Affairs and its officials is not historically correct and is nothing more than flight of imagination
5/426, Viram Khand,
# 94155-34526 firstname.lastname@example.org
Copy to Sri Vikas Swarup, Spokesperson, Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi