New Delhi: The family of Naveen Shekharappa Gyanagoudar, the 21-year-old student from Karnataka who died in Kharkiv on Tuesday, has alleged that nobody from the Indian embassy reached out to stranded students in the Ukrainian city that has been in the midst of intense Russian bombing.
Gyanagoudar, a fourth-year medical student at the Kharkiv National Medical University, was killed when he stepped out of his bunker to exchange currency and fetch some food, his uncle Ujjanagouda said.
The victim’s residence in Chalageri in the Haveri district slipped into gloom upon receiving the news of their child killed in the European nation, with a large number of people thronging the house to console the bereaved family.
The student’s father Shekar Gowda complained that no one from the Indian embassy reached the students stuck in Kharkiv.
Ujjanagouda said Naveen and others from Karnataka were taking shelter in a bunker in Kharkiv. He had gone out in the morning to exchange currency and to fetch some food and was hit by the shelling.
On Tuesday when he rang up his father, Naveen said there was no food and water in the bunker, Ujjanagouda stated.
Karnataka chief minister Basavaraj Bommai called up Shekhar Gowda and expressed his sorrow. He promised to make every effort to bring back the student’s body to India. Bommai also said he is touch with the officials in the external affairs ministry.
Pooja Praharaj, the student coordinator for about 1,200 students at Kharkiv medical university, told The Wire that when was speaking to another Indian student, the latter got a phone call at around 8:50 am local time. “He picked it up and told me that he can’t understand that a lady was speaking in Russian. I spoke to her and she said that she was speaking from the phone of the Indian who had been brought to the morgue. She asked us to pick up his body and belongings,” she said.
The death sent a shockwave among other parents from Chalageri whose children are also pursuing medical courses in Kharkiv, as they now fear for their wards’ well-being.
Srinivas, whose son Praveen is pursuing his medical course in Kharkiv, appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to bring the students back.
“My son and others are in a bunker. They are all saying that they will survive only if they are brought back or else they will all die. Let our prime minister speak to both sides (Russia and Ukraine) and ensure a ceasefire till our children return. This effort is required, which no one is doing,” Srinivas said.
Venkatesh, whose son is also stuck in a bunker in Kharkiv, appealed for Modi’s help to bring back the Indian students stuck in the war-torn region. According to him, students from Karnataka holed up in a bunker did not have food and water for the past three days.
Some parents alleged that the local BJP MP did not respond to SOS calls from stranded students, a charge denied by the elected representative.
Sridhar Krishna Murthy was upset that the sitting Haveri-Gadag MP Shivakumar Udasi was not responding to their calls.
“Suman (his son) has been calling Shivakumar Udasi for the past one week but he was not attending the call. My son even messaged him but there was no response. Today morning also, he rang up Udasi,” Murthy said.
According to Murthy, there are three students from Chalageri in Kharkiv and after Naveen’s death, they were concerned about the condition of their children.
MP Udasi rejected these allegations. “The parents charge that I did not receive the calls by their children. I showed how I spoke to them and made WhatsApp call to them. I showed them how I am in touch with Suman and others,” he told PTI.
“I am not blaming anybody for what they said but I am in touch with the boys and girls stuck there. I am also speaking to Union Minister Pralhad Joshi. I could not reach out to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar. I am trying my best to get the body of Naveen back to India,” he added.
(With PTI inputs)
This article was first published on The Wire.