Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla on Tuesday described the decision of the British government to not recognise Covishield as discriminating and said that it impacts Indian citizens travelling to the United Kingdom, reported ANI.
According to the UK government’s new travel rules announced on September 17, people inoculated against the coronavirus in Africa and South America, and in countries, including India, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Jordan, Thailand and Russia will be considered unvaccinated.
Passengers from these places will have to undergo a 10-day quarantine on arrival in the United Kingdom. The new rules will be effective from October 4.
At a press briefing on Tuesday, the foreign secretary said that it was within India’s “right to take reciprocal measures” till the matter is resolved, reported NDTV.
“The external affairs ministry has raised the issue strongly with the new UK foreign secretary,” Shringla said. “I am told that certain assurances have been given that this issue will be resolved.”
Earlier in the day, Union Foreign Minister S Jaishankar said he has discussed the matter with British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss.
Meanwhile, Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera on Tuesday urged the Centre to take steps to ensure that Indians travelling to the United Kingdom do not face any inconvenience, PTI reported. He also criticised the handling of international relations by the government.
“So much for the diplomatic heft that [Prime Minister Narendra] Modi claims he has,” Khera said at a press briefing in Delhi. “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.”
Congress leaders Shashi Tharoor and Jairam Ramesh had also criticised the United Kingdom’s vaccine policy on Monday.
Tharoor had said on Twitter that on account of the rules, he has refused to attend an event at the debating society of the Cambridge Union and has also pulled out of events pertaining to the United Kingdom’s edition of his book called The Battle Of Belonging.
Ramesh had noted that the Pune-based vaccine manufacturer Serum Institute of India, which is the local manufacturer of Covishield, has supplied shots to the UK, and said that the country’s decision “smacks of racism”.