Embassy, expats slam fake reports by Indian media on “airlift”
22 Jun 2017 - 17:04
By The Peninsula Online
Doha: When Indian Civil Aviation Minister announced plans to operate additional flights to India, none would have imagined the confusion that would follow.
Some leading Indian newspapers went overboard claiming that India is airlifting or evacuating its citizens from Qatar, when in reality these were just additional flights to address the holiday rush.
This came as a surprise and shock to many Indians in Qatar who took to social media to slam the irresponsible reporting by the media houses.
“Very irresponsible of the media to write such misleading reports. Sitting in Delhi, they don’t know the ground reality. Without talking to people in Qatar they write something,” Indian Ambassador P Kumaran told The Peninsula.
AI Express will operate an additional flight each on 24 JUN & 25 JUN on the route TRV/DOH/COK/TRV to cater to Eid/School vacation traffic.— India in Qatar (@IndEmbDoha) June 21, 2017
“These extra flights are to address the holiday rush as all Indian schools closed this week for summer holidays and it coincides with Eid holidays. Jet Airways is operating two flights and Air India Express another two, so there will be four extra flights to address the holiday rush,” he added.
P. Ashok Gajapathi Raju, Indian Minister of Civil Aviation also clarified saying, "The additional flights to Qatar are to cater to Eid / school vacation traffic. It shouldn't be seen as evacuation as reported at some places."
The additional flights to Qatar are to cater to Eid / school vacation traffic. It shouldn't be seen as evacuation as reported at some places— Ashok Gajapathi Raju (@Ashok_Gajapathi) June 22, 2017
The Times of India had run a story saying “India to airlift its citizens stuck in blockade-hit Qatar from next week.” There were many comments by Indians in Qatar saying there is no problem in Qatar and the story is completely fake.
Some international Media organisations like BBC also got the news wrong and started reporting that "India to operate extra flights to Qatar for 'stranded' nationals."
Indian Embassy in Qatar also took to twitter to clarify and reply to various queries from Indians that there is no evacuation from Qatar. The embassy also requested Indians to follow its social media channels for official communications and not to be misled by rumours. The officials also added that they will counter this fake news in Delhi today.
Executive Director at Qatar Stars League Khalifa Saleh Al Haroon, also popular as Mr Q, took to Facebook inviting Indian community to respond to fake media reports.
Meanwhile, producer cum announcer at FM 107 Qatar Obaid Tahir put up a video on Facebook. In the video he told Indians in Qatar that there is no panic situation and the additional flight service is being introduced temporarily to help those traveling during summer and Eid holidays to India. He concluded the video by wishing everyone a happy journey and Eid Mubarak.
An Indian social media professional from Qatar Roohi Khatri took to twitter to appreciate the effort taken by Indian embassy in Qatar. Good to see the @IndEmbDoha interactive at this time tweeted Roohi.
Another Indian expat and aviation enthusiast tweeted:
Many Indian expatriates had booked connection flights through other Gulf States and after the neighbouring countries blocked their air space these flights from UAE, Saudi and Bahrain were cancelled. This resulted in extra rush on direct flights operated by Qatar Airways, Jet Airways, Indigo and Air India Express.
To address this rush, Jet airways announced two extra flights to Mumbai on June 22 and 23 and Air India Express announced four flights to Trivandrum and Kochi on June 24, 25, 30 and July 1.
Hope Indian media and other International media outlets will take note of this and stop creating unnecessary panic among people with misreporting.