The Russian invasion of Ukraine has led to the deaths of many civilians so far. In many of their talks, Ukraine has indicated the goal of an immediate ceasefire. But, on the other hand, Putin has put the country’s nuclear deterrent forces in a “special regime of combat duty.” As a result, various nations, like Germany, the US, Australia, and Canada, have decided to send military support to Ukraine. India again refrained from voting at the UNHRC meeting held on Monday 28th Feb 2022, probably to do with our dependence on Russia for upto 65% of India’s defence equipment.
International students and workers found themselves in a helpless situation, without family help and far from home. The locals had been queuing up in stores to stock up on their food and daily essentials, fearing that supplies might run out soon. They had to wait until the women and children were evacuated, but the problem intensified.
Amidst the growing tension, many successfully managed to make it to Poland.
As crowds gathered around the subway and train stations, police and authorities stopped allowing only women and children to board the train. Despite being outnumbered by people, the police tried to alleviate the situation and calm the crowds down.
There have been reports that Indian students were not being allowed on trains. Furthermore, several students fleeing Ukraine have alleged that they have encountered harassment and were beaten by the Ukrainian guards at the Poland border. As a result, they were not allowed to cross over the border.
Mansi Chaudhary, an Indian student, pointed out that the situation is worsening; she said the Indian students are being tortured and physically assaulted. The border guards are incredibly hostile towards the students as they pull them by the hair and hit them with rods. In a few incidents, women students have suffered fractures and injuries.
Indian embassy diplomats have provided food and shelter, but the border guards did not let them pass. Ms Chaudhary returned to her hostel after three days of not being able to cross the Ukraine-Poland border. She said she would try to leave the country through alternative routes, including Romania or Hungary border routes.
Deeksha Pandey, a senior resident in Neurology at Sumi National University, said that her experience had been devastating. Apart from enduring the aggression of the police and border control, the students also had a hard time following the directives issued by the Embassy.
The Indian Embassy in Ukraine had issued an “urgent advisory” for Indians who wished to evacuate from Ukraine via Poland. Additionally, in their Twitter account, they posted the advisory. They had mentioned that ten buses at Shehyni on the Ukrainian side of the border had been arranged to take stranded Indians to border checkpoints for transit entry into Poland.
Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said that their Twitter handle is specifically set up to handle the evacuation of Indians from Ukraine under Operation Ganga. The Twitter account called OpGanga Helpline includes helpline numbers in Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia- and all the nations that share borders with Ukraine.
Miss Pandey pointed out that travelling by train from Kyiv to western cities in the present situation is not safe or appropriate. She remarked at the utter lack of proper guidance and is disappointed at the current situation.
21 -year-old Naveen Shekaharappa, belonging to the southern state of Karnataka’s Haveri district, was killed in shelling in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv. He died when he was trying to find his way out of Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city. He lived near the governor’s house and stood in the queue for food when an airstrike blew up the house, killing him.
Mr Bagchi expressed condolences and is in touch with the student’s family.
According to the latest data from India’s foreign ministry, 20,000 students have been in Ukraine for educational purposes. In addition, 4,000 Indians have been successfully evacuated, while many remain in the country to be rescued.
On 1st March 2022, the Indian Embassy in Ukraine issued an advisory, urging Indian students to leave Kyiv urgently. Also, Indian government has dispatched four federal ministers to Ukraine’s neighbouring countries to help in the rescue mission.
Despite the government’s efforts, Indian students have been facing the worst of situations. For instance, Arun Raj, a student in Kharkiv, said that he has been sheltering in a hostel bunker with 400 other Indian students since 24th February. Moreover, the city is under curfew due to incessant bombings occurring across the street. So, it is impossible to follow the Indian Embassy’s advisory to board a train and leave the city.
The recent rescues
With Operation Ganga underway, many Indian students are seen making a move towards the Ukrainian border despite the threat of constant conflict and bombardment. Poland has assured that Indian nationals can enter Poland without Visa while the Ukrainian guards are at the border are still acting hostile against foreign national students.
Despite the horrendous situation, students are trying to help each other out, which can be seen in one of the videos shared on Twitter. In the video, Hardeep Singh, an Indian citizen, can be seen serving free food to those who are travelling to the Polish Border.
Indian students arrived in the city of Bucharest from Ukraine to catch the special flights being operated under Operation Ganga. They carried the Indian national tricolour flag as they were told that they wouldn’t face any hurdles in boarding the flight or crossing the border after seeing the flag.
Furthermore, the students of different nationalities, including Pakistan and Turkey, also managed to pass the checkpoints by holding on to the tricolour flag.
Hence, the Indian National flag turned out to be of great advantage to the students trapped in the war-torn countries. Also, they expressed their gratitude to the Indian embassy officials who arranged their food and shelter as they waited for their flights to India.