New Delhi: An Indian student has reportedly been shot at and injured in Ukrainian capital Kyiv, minister of state for civil aviation V.K. Singh said on Friday.
Singh is in Poland currently to facilitate the evacuation of Indians stranded in war-hit Ukraine. “Today, we heard reports that a student leaving Kyiv was shot at. He was taken back to Kyiv. This will happen in a fighting,” the minister told media persons.
Recently on March 1, a young Indian medical student, Naveen S.G. of Karnataka, was killed in shelling in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv when he ventured out to buy food for himself and fellow students.
Singh said the Centre is making efforts to ensure that the maximum number of students can come out of Ukraine with as less loss as possible.
India has been evacuating its citizens through special flights from Ukraine’s western neighbours such as Romania, Hungary and Poland as the Ukrainian airspace has been shut since February 24 due to the Russian military offensive.
The minister said around 1,700 students are still waiting to be evacuated from Ukraine, which has been facing a Russian attack last Thursday.
“The Indian embassy had earlier cleared on the priority that everyone should leave Kyiv. In the event of war, the gun bullet does not look at anyone’s religion and nationality,” ANI quoted Singh as saying.
Indians in Ukraine have expressed displeasure with the embassy’s response, saying the advisories did not give them enough notice and did not give details on the safest way to travel during the crisis.
Students still stranded in Kharkiv
A day after the Indian government asked citizens to “immediately” leave the war-hit Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, several students are still stranded there, desperately waiting to get to a safe zone.
As fighting intensified in Kharkiv, India had Wednesday asked its nationals to leave the second-largest Ukrainian city urgently to three nearby places “even on foot”, while Russia promised to create “humanitarian corridors” for evacuation of Indians from the conflict zones.
However, the students claimed they are still struggling to get out to safety.
“Just because the night passed and we survived does not mean the struggle is over for us. We are far from being in a safe zone. We did start walking but the railway stations were flooded with people and still haven’t been able to board a train,” said Firdaus Tarannum, an Indian medical student in Kharkiv.
“We are in a shelter at Pisochyn near Kharkiv. We have no blankets and are left with almost no food. We started walking immediately after the advisory by government. I hope they arrange buses for us soon and we can be out of here,” said Rehyam Khan, a first-year medical student.
The Indian embassy in Ukraine on Thursday advised all Indian nationals in Kharkiv to fill up an online form on an urgent basis.
“By grace of God, we are still safe…very very tough day we had yesterday. Only God saved all of us. We are in Pisochyn where no food is available. Students who took train are desperately waiting to reach a safe zone while many are still stranded,” said Pragun, another student.
Evacuation flights continue
A total of 30 flights have been operated and around 6,400 people brought back under Operation Ganga that was launched to evacuate Indian nationals in Ukraine, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on Thursday.
MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said the number of Indians who have left Ukraine since advisories were issued was nearly 18,000. “The pace of Operation Ganga continues to accelerate. During the last 24 hours, 15 flights landed in India, bringing back more than 3,000 Indians,” he said at a media briefing.
“With this, it takes the total number of flights under operation Ganga to 30. So, we have brought back around 6,400 Indian citizens,” Bagchi.
During the next 24 hours, 18 flights have been scheduled, of these three would be C-17 Indian Air Force flights and the other flights are commercial, he said. Bagchi said that the increased number of flights reflects the large number of Indians who have crossed over from Ukraine and are now in the neighbouring countries.
(With PTI inputs)
Featured image: A blast is seen in the TV tower, amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine, March 1, 2022. Photo: Reuters/Carlos Barria
This article was first published on The Wire.