GANGTOK: Recounting difficulties they went through while leaving Ukraine, many students who returned to their home in Sikkim, said they had to face racism, cold weather and the fear of shelling and bomb attacks by Russia.
Calling the journey back home tough, taxing and dehumanising, Sneha Tamang, a medical student, said, “The journey has been nothing but a nightmare. At first, I was scared that I might never make it out alive because bombs do not care who you are.”
“I was protecting myself from bombs, racism, and the cold weather. We all were very tired. People can be cruel in such situations and you have to be selfish if you want to survive. I hope no one else have to experience this,” she told The New Indian.
She further said, “Everyone felt like a hostage. We wanted to just leave. It led to a lot of run-ins with co-travellers and even some fights. We had been hungry and sleepy. Any person would get irritated and aggressive.”
Recounting the horror, the students said they were on the receiving end from everyone, including ordinary civilians. They said that transportation was a major challenge in leaving Ukraine.
“There were separate lines for Ukrainians and Indians. First preference for availing a transport facility was for Ukrainian women,” said another medical student who now along with thousand others face an uncertain pause in their studies.
Sikkim Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang on Thursday said all 26 students from Sikkim studying in Ukraine have safely left the war-hit country and reached neighbouring nations. “All the Sikkimese students in Ukraine have safely crossed the border and have reached the neighbouring countries of Poland, Hungary, and Romania and will be evacuated soon,” he stated.
The chief minister said that four students from Sikkim had reached New Delhi on Thursday and would arrive in Sikkim on Friday.
A total of 12 students from Sikkim have reached India, out of which seven have arrived in the state, informed SD Dhakal, Secretary to the Chief Minister. “As soon as fighting began, we formed a WhatsApp group for all students in a concerted effort to ease coordination at all levels,” he said.
The state government also provided financial aid to students for food and shelter through the arduous journey to escape the war in Ukraine.
Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, the Government of India launched a massive evacuation drive, Operation Ganga, to bring back Indian students stuck in Ukraine and is in close coordination with state governments.