The Congress on Tuesday expressed concern over the latest Covid-related travel restrictions announced by the UK and urged the government to ensure that there is no inconvenience faced by any Indian travelling to that country.
According to new rules announced by the United Kingdom, Indian travellers who have received both doses of the Covishield vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII) will be considered unvaccinated and will have to undergo self-isolation for 10 days.
Reacting to the development, Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera said, "We are very concerned about the kind of inconvenience our people will have to face while travelling to the UK." Taking a dig at the Modi government, he said this raises pertinent questions on the way the government has handled international relations.
"So much for the diplomatic heft that Mr. (Narendra) Modi claims he has. It does not come to the rescue of ordinary Indians unfortunately. It does not come to the rescue of the interests of India. When push comes to shove, we pay a heavy price," Khera said at a Congress media briefing at the party's headquarters here.
"We would request the government to immediately intervene and ensure that there is no inconvenience faced by any Indian travelling to the UK," he said.
His remarks come a day after former Union ministers and Congress leaders Jairam Ramesh, Anand Sharma and Shashi Tharoor slammed the UK's COVID-19-related travel rules, with Ramesh saying it "smacks of racism".
While Tharoor had said that because of the restrictions he had even pulled out of a debate at The Cambridge Union debating society and from the launch events for the UK edition of his latest book, Sharma urged the Prime Minister's Office to take a stand against the UK's double standards and cancel the proposed India-UK trade talks.
From October 4, the "traffic light system" of red, amber, green countries based on levels of COVID-19 risk will be replaced in the UK by one red list of countries.
The scrapping of the amber list, which is what India is currently on, means a reduced PCR test cost burden only for some travellers.
However, the expanded list of countries whose vaccines are recognised in the UK does not include India. It means Indians vaccinated with Covishield, the SII-produced Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, would be required to undergo compulsory PCR tests as well as self-isolation.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has urged for an "early resolution" of the COVID-19 quarantine issue during his meeting with the newly appointed British Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss in the US.