Thousands of Indian students studying abroad in Ukraine are desperately calling on the Indian Embassy to help them evacuate the war-torn country.
According to The Wall Street Journal, around 8,000 of the estimated 20,000 Indians residing in Ukraine have fled from the country since India’s External Affairs Ministry issued its advisory on Feb. 15. About 13,000 out of the estimated 18,000 Indian students enrolled in Ukrainian universities, however, are still left stranded as of Feb. 27, reported NDTV.
While the Indian government has not publicly denounced Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it is organizing evacuation efforts in Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, Romania and Moldova to get Indian citizens out of the country. But many students who are stranded in eastern Ukraine, where the war has intensified, are fearing for their lives.
“The students have been abandoned in this icy-cold weather, the Indian Embassy is not with us nor the agent who took money from these students,” says the man in the video. Location- Odessa border, Ukraine pic.twitter.com/r156GBXZBE
— Vijaita Singh (@vijaita) February 28, 2022
“We can hear sounds of bomb blasts. We don’t have sufficient food, and the weather has been very cold since morning. We just ask the Indian Embassy officials to help us as soon as possible,” fourth-year medical student Bala Yogi told The Indian Express. “The university asked us to move to Moldova due to the current situation in Mykolaiv, but we are unable to do so, as there is no transportation.”
Jini Patel, a 20-year-old Indian student at Uzhhorod University, took shelter at the Indian embassy in Kyiv on Feb. 24 along with hundreds of other students, but he said they were not provided with help escaping, according to The Washington Post. Patel had to risk walking to the train station to get to Uzhhorod amid the chaos.
In one viral tweet posted on Feb. 28, stranded Indian students desperately called for help on social media. “Please help us get out immediately,” one student said in the video. “There is a lot of panic.”
— Neelesh chauhan (@NeeleshChauha) February 28, 2022
Many international Indian students had been drawn to Ukraine’s universities due to their affordability and easier entrance requirements. Among the 18,000 students, many have been studying in the medical field, as private medical universities in India are few and expensive.
Spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs, Arindam Bagchi, released a statement on Tuesday morning to his official Twitter account announcing the death of Indian student Naveen Shekharappa Gyanagoudar in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv.
“With profound sorrow we confirm that an Indian student lost his life in shelling in Kharkiv this morning. The Ministry is in touch with his family. We convey our deepest condolences to the family,” he tweeted.
“Foreign Secretary is calling in Ambassadors of Russia and Ukraine to reiterate our demand for urgent safe passage for Indian nationals who are still in Kharkiv and cities in other conflict zones,” he added. “Similar action is also being undertaken by our Ambassadors in Russia and Ukraine.”
Foreign Secretary is calling in Ambassadors of Russia and Ukraine to reiterate our demand for urgent safe passage for Indian nationals who are still in Kharkiv and cities in other conflict zones.
Similar action is also being undertaken by our Ambassadors in Russia and Ukraine.
— Arindam Bagchi (@MEAIndia) March 1, 2022
Gyanagoudar was a 21-year-old medical student in his final year at the Kharkiv National Medical University. He was standing in line to receive food when he was killed in a Russian shelling, according to NDTV.
“Naveen was shot dead around 10:30 a.m. Ukrainian time today. He was standing in the queue before a grocery shop when the Russian army fired at people. We have no information about his body. None of us was able to visit the hospital, probably where it is kept now,” Shridharan Gopalakrishnan, a friend of Gyanagoudar, said.
“We are completely devastated,” 21-year-old medical student Mahrukh Nigar Zaman said, according to The Wall Street Journal. “He came here to get education, and he lost his life. It’s a distressing thought for each and every one of us.”
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