Airlift: Real story behind India's rescue mission during the Gulf War 1990
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Airlift: Real story behind India's rescue mission during the Gulf War 1990

Airlift is soon to hit the theatres, but did you know about the real story behind the movie? Here's a look at how India carried out the biggest evacuation project during the Gulf War in 1990 in Kuwait, where it rescued 1,70,000 Indians.

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Saddam Hussain's speech during the Gulf War of 1990

Saddam Hussain's speech during the Gulf War of 1990

The Iraq-Kuwait war became a world phenomenon when Iraq invaded Kuwait and deemed it the 19th province of Iraq. Saddam Hussain was behind the entire invasion that rendered millions homeless. Image Courtesy: Image Procured via Google Search

Indian refugees line up to escape the Gulf War of 1990

Indian refugees line up to escape the Gulf War of 1990

The invasion took place over 2 days of intense combat because of which Iraq was able to thaw down Kuwait's Armed Forces. Image Courtesy: Image Procured via Google Search

Saddam Hussain with troops during Gulf War 1990

Saddam Hussain with troops during Gulf War 1990

About 1,70,000 Indians were stuck in Kuwait and India's initial efforts to evacuate them through military aircrafts were unsuccessful. Image Courtesy: Image Procured via Google Search

Iraq's President Saddam Hussain with Kuwaiti Emir Shaikh Jaber Al Ahmad Al Sabah in 1989

Iraq's President Saddam Hussain with Kuwaiti Emir Shaikh Jaber Al Ahmad Al Sabah in 1989

Authorities, led by VP Singh and External Affairs Minister IK Gujral decided upon switching to civilian aircrafts for the rescue operation. Image Courtesy: Image Procured via Google Search

Refugee camps established during the Gulf War 1990

Refugee camps established during the Gulf War 1990

The rescue operation lasted a total of 59 days during which 1,70,000 people were evacuated from Amman to Mumbai over a distance of 4,117 km. Image Courtesy: Image Procured via Google Search

Destruction during Iraq-Kuwait War in 1990

Destruction during Iraq-Kuwait War in 1990

About 488 commercial flights of Air India were used during the operation from 13 August to 11 October 1990. Image Courtesy: Image Procured via Google Search

Saddam Hussain addresses troops during the Gulf War of 1990

Saddam Hussain addresses troops during the Gulf War of 1990

During the same time, India was in a big financial crisis during the intermediary time between their shift to economic liberalization. Despite this, the VP Singh Government took a bold step to rescue all Indians stuck in Kuwait. Image Courtesy: Image Procured via Google Search

Tanks occupy roads during the Gulf War in 1990

Tanks occupy roads during the Gulf War in 1990

A number of back channels were used to negotiate with Iraq since India didn't want to rub other countries the wrong way by direct negotiations with the discordant country. Ultimately, IK Gujral and other officials had to meet Saddam Hussain to get him on board. Image Courtesy: Image Procured via Google Search

Unseen pictures of refugees during the Gulf War of 1990

Unseen pictures of refugees during the Gulf War of 1990

Kumar's movie, Airlift focuses on the same, with him playing Ranjjit Katyal, a wealthy businessman who led the operation. The Ministry of External Affairs, journalists and officials from Air India deny the role of any Ranjit Katyal during the evacuation. Image Courtesy: Image Procured via Google Search

Prisoners of War during the Gulf War 1990

Prisoners of War during the Gulf War 1990

The evacuators didn't realize the gravity of the situation. Many Indians living in Kuwait weren't ready to leave behind their entire livelihood and life in Kuwait, while many didn't have their paperwork, which they had handed over to employers who they couldn't get in touch with. Image Courtesy: Image Procured via Google Search

Indian refugee camps during the Gulf War 1990

Indian refugee camps during the Gulf War 1990

A number of flights got delayed during the entire ordeal because people had to reach the airport from various places they had taken shelter in. The on-going conflicts on roads proved to be an obstacle for them, which led to delays and upset crew workers. Image Courtesy: Image Procured via Google Search

Civilians move out during the Gulf War 1990

Civilians move out during the Gulf War 1990

Not many know this, but the Indian officials also rescued stranded Pakistani airline staff on humanitarian grounds during the entire ordeal. Image Courtesy: Image Procured via Google Search

Refugees lining up to leave during the Gulf War of 1990

Refugees lining up to leave during the Gulf War of 1990

Air India's regional director, MP Mascarenhas organized the operation along with a number of other people. They operated out of a small hotel room in Amman with very little space for everything. Image Courtesy: Image Procured via Google Search

Refugees during the Gulf War 1990

Refugees during the Gulf War 1990

Initially, Indian citizens were agitated, because it took 12 days for India to begin rescue operations. But IK Gujral got them under control by uniting them with the slogan "Bharat Mata Ki Jai". Image Courtesy: Image Procured via Google Search

Destruction and harm caused by the Gulf War of 1990

Destruction and harm caused by the Gulf War of 1990

Various state governments also came out in support of Indians stranded in Kuwait. As the situation got more and more severe, the Kerala Government dispatched food items for them. Image Courtesy: Image Procured via Google Search

Indians rescues during the Gulf War of 1990

Indians rescues during the Gulf War of 1990

It was claimed that the Iraqis had a soft corner for Indians and Indians were spared the worst unlike Palestinians who were subjected to theft and loot amongst others. Image Courtesy: Image Procured via Google Search

'Highway of Death' during the Gulf War 1990

'Highway of Death' during the Gulf War 1990

India also made a place in the Guiness Book of World Records for the biggest evacuation project in the world. Image Courtesy: Image Procured via Google Search

Refugees line up during the Gulf War of 1990

Refugees line up during the Gulf War of 1990

Javed Ahmed, a journalist living in Kuwait for 35 years, claimed that the film had nothing to do with reality and was far-fetched. Image Courtesy: Image Procured via Google Search

Indian refugees during the Iraq-Kuwait War 1990

Indian refugees during the Iraq-Kuwait War 1990

Akshay Kumar, on the other hand, claimed that his character Ranjit Katyal is not a fictional person and is very much alive. Further, he also claimed that his character is not based only on one person. Image Courtesy: Image Procured via Google Search

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