Indian officials were in constant touch with Australian authorities

Hostage situation

India was in touch with Australia ever since a gunman took employees and customers at Lindt Chocolat Cafe in Sydney captive on Monday.

The government heaved a sigh of relief when authorities in New South Wales conveyed to Consul General of India in Sydney, Sanjay Sudhir, that the Indians among the hostages had come out of the cafe unhurt.

The Consulate General of India in Sydney was evacuated during the siege as it is located just 400 metres away from the cafe. Sudhir and others at the mission were in touch with authorities of the New South Wales province regarding the evolving situation throughout the day.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj spoke to India’s High Commissioner to Australia, Biren Nanda, who was in regular contact with senior officials of the federal government in Canberra.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the nation in condemning the siege.
“The incident in Sydney is disturbing. Such acts are inhuman and deeply unfortunate,” he tweeted early on Monday, adding, “I pray for everyone’s safety.”

Modi was in Sydney last month and he addressed a congregation of about 20,000 Indians living in Australia in a rally at Allphones Arena in the city.

The scene of the siege has many Indian establishments in the vicinity, like branches of State Bank of India and Bank of Baroda, as well as office of the India Tourism.

The Consulate General of India in Sydney has set up a helpline for Indians in Australia and India to enquire about the safety of their family and friends. 

“As a preventive measure in accordance with the local requirements, we have evacuated the staff from the Sydney Consulate building, because it is located about 300-400 metres away from where this incident took place,” Spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), Syed Akbaruddin, told journalists here.

The officials of the consulate, however, continued to work. The MEA told that India’s Deputy Counsel General in Sydney Vinod Bahade and Deputy High Commissioner Surinder Datta could be reached on phone.

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