An Indian consular officer on Friday briefed Queen Elizabeth II about the close collaboration between the UK and India during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sanjibita Tariang, who works at the British Deputy High Commission in Kolkata, narrated her experience of helping stranded British travellers get home during India’s lockdown, according to a statment by British High commission.
She described how the “UK in India” team rose to the unprecedented challenges posed by COVID 19, through collaborative working between India and London, and with exceptional cooperation from the Indian authorities.
The UK repatriated nearly 18,000 travellers from India on 66 charter flights, from 11 Indian cities, between April and June.
The engagement took place during a virtual unveiling of a new portrait of Queen Elizabeth. The artwork, painted by artist Miriam Escofet, will be on display in the refurbished reception of the new Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.
The Queen praised FCO staff members for their work in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the engagement, the Queen spoke to staff who worked on the repatriation effort and also heard about the work the UK Government is doing internationally to develop a vaccine.
Narrating her experience, Tariang said: “Organising the repatriation flights was a huge and complex operation involving thorough planning and coordination. We also had to obtain movement permissions during a nationwide lockdown – the main challenge was to organise transport from remote places like Meghalaya and Manipur for a journey spanning 32 hours,” she said.
“I used my local networks and Hindi, Assamese, Bengali, Nepali language skills to organise a safe journey for some of the most vulnerable and elderly British nationals. For example: arranging a bus all the way from Shillong to Kolkata; requesting assistance from police officers to help passengers cross borders; and getting hotels to open their restaurants for dinner and packing breakfast for long journeys – all so passengers could catch their flight in the nick of time,” she added.
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