External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has made a name for herself by coming to the help of Indians trapped in difficult situations in a foreign country, and foreigners with a similar plight in India. People have taken to tweeting at her, knowing that there's a good chance she will spot their appeal and direct her ministry to take action.
The latest beneficiary of this is a 24-year-old Russian who was forced to beg outside a temple in Kanchipuram, Tami Nadu, due to an unfortunate banking incident. According to a report in The Hindu, A. Evangelin has been travelling through India since 24 September. On Tuesday, 10 October, he arrived in Kanchipuram in Chennai. When he tried withdrawing some money from an ATM, somehow, his card got blocked, leaving Evangelin with no money to fend for himself.
Left with no option, Evangelin decided to join the beggars outside a temple so he could raise some money. The incident was reported to the local police, who promptly arrived at the temple to investigate.
On seeing his travel documents and a valid visa, a sub-inspector gave him Rs 500 to help him go back to Chennai and contact the Russian Consulate for help, reported India Today. On learning of Evangelin's plight through the papers, Swaraj quickly tweeted, "Evangelin - Your country Russia is our time-tested friend. My officials in Chennai will provide you all help."
However, yesterday, on 11 October, a Russian Consulate official told PTI that Evangelin had not contacted them, nor had he answered their calls to his mobile phone when they tried to contact him. If he gets in touch, "We will assist him in a proper way," PTI quoted Yury S Belov, Vice-Consul (press and public relations) of the Russian Consulate as saying.
In another incident, yesterday, Swaraj directed the Indian Embassy in Riyadh to reach out to an Indian woman who claims to be in danger in Saudi Arabia at the earliest after a video of her begging for help from Bhagwant Mann, the Aam Aadmi Party's MP from Sangrur district in Punjab, started circulating online.
In the video, the woman cries uncontrollably as she details her torture at the hands of her employers for the past one year. She claims that she has been living in Dawadmi, located about 200km from the capital city of Riyadh, as a slave and is ill-treated and fears for her life. She also alleges that when she managed to escape and went to the police for help, they too beat her up and took her back to her employers. She pleads with Mann to rescue her, the way he had helped other Indians trapped in a similar situation.
Earlier this year, in June, Mann had, with the ministry of external affairs, helped rescue and bring back 20 Indian youths stuck in Saudi Arabia in deplorable conditions after receiving an SOS video from them on Facebook.
Mann is aware of the woman's call for help — he retweeted an Aaj Tak news report about the video — but as of now, there has been no statement on the matter from him.