Thousands of Indians studying in Ukraine have begun to be reunited with their families after being flown home to escape the Russian attack. There are also reports that many Indian students took shelter in bunkers to escape the fighting.
The students suddenly found themselves in the midst of a war and fearful of what lay ahead following last week’s attack.
Pressure on the Indian government to pull out its citizens has intensified in recent days, especially after one student died in shelling in Kharkiv on Tuesday.
A memorial service was held for Naveen S. Gyandagoudar in his hometown in Karnataka state after he was killed when he left his bunker to go buy food.
There have been several Indian students who have released recordings in which they claim to be mistreated by Ukrainian officials.
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This combined with the reports from Russian President Vladimir Putin that Ukraine has been holding Indian students hostage in Kharkiv to use them as human shields is quite alarming in the current scenario.
Authorities said about 17,000 out of an estimated 20,000 Indian citizens in Ukraine had left the country and New Delhi was trying to evacuate the rest to nearby countries from where they can be flown back home.
Mansi Singhal described the “intolerable” scramble to get to the border from where they could be repatriated.
Atul Kumar said he had spent four days in a bunker before receiving word to travel to Poland.
Many of those who remain stranded are in conflict areas such as Kharkiv and Sumy.
Evacuation flights have taken off from countries bordering western Ukraine, such as Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania, with more scheduled.
A group of Indian Cabinet ministers flew to these countries to help with rescue efforts.
But for those stuck in the eastern region, there appears no safe way out yet.
India has sent a team from its embassy in Moscow to Belgorod, a Russian city close to the border with Ukraine, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla.
India has asked all its citizens to immediately leave Kharkiv after receiving information from Russia, External Affairs Ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi said.
They have been advised to move to three safe zones about 15 kilometers (9 miles) away using any means, including on foot, he said.
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