NEW DELHI: 160 Indian evacuees from Ukraine arrived in New Delhi early this morning via Budapest in Hungary. The Air Asia flight reached New Delhi early in the morning. So far, 15,920 Indians are said to have been domiciled on 76 flights, specially arranged under Operation Ganga.
Speaking to The New Indian, the Ministry of External Affairs clarified that all the flights have been arranged by the Government of India and no fare is being charged from the evacuees. In addition to civilian airlines, the Indian Air Force sent C17 flights to deliver aid and airlift Indians.
Meanwhile, India has expressed its anxiety for the trapped citizens in Sumy, which is close to the conflict zone. More than 700 students are said to be stuck in the area. Amid shelling, it is feared that the stranded Indians may not be able to exit the place. India is unable to arrange buses till a ceasefire is announced by Russia and Ukraine.
Bringing back Indians from Kharkiv, Mariupol and Sumy, all of which are surrounded by the conflict zone, is proving very difficult amid shelling, the government said on Saturday.
“When shelling started in Kharkiv, my son decided to take the risk to exit the country at any cost. He left Ukraine and reached Slovakia where he availed the services offered by the Indian government. He did not get any assistance from the Indian or Ukrainian sides in Kyiv,” Ratan Chandra Sau, father of a medical student in Kharkiv, told The New Indian.
His son, Soumen Sau was also present on the site of shelling in which a student from Karnataka, Naveen Shekharappa, was killed in Ukraine, he said.
On being asked why his son didn’t leave Ukraine when the first advisory was issued, Sau said, “The authorities asked us not to panic and that such a horrific situation would not arise. The institutions also said that should the students choose to leave, they will be expelled.”
Sau’s response was echoed by several evacuees, including the medical students that were interviewed by The New Indian. Paras, a student in Lviv said, “We were asked by our institution to attend regular classes. The institute also asked not to leave the campus, unless it was essential.”
“India arranged our food and flights. The Government of India hosted us in a Seven Star resort in Slovakia,” Paras told The New Indian, just after landing in New Delhi.
“My son did not get any help from the Indian embassy in Ukraine. However, once he reached Slovakia, all possible support was extended for him to get home safe,” said Mohammad Rashid, who was waiting to receive his son Fahad, a medical student at Lviv National University, at the airport.
“My son lives in Lviv. He attempted to enter Poland but failed to do so. He walked 35 kilometres to do that, but was forced to return. Thereafter, he went to Hungary and took a break for a day before reaching Slovakia,” added Mohammad Rashid from Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh.
Soon after landing in New Delhi, Fahad said, “We were told not to leave the country and the situation also appeared to be under control. Leaving Ukraine was a struggle, but once we got to Slovakia, we received great support from India. We were airlifted from Slovakia,” said Fahad.
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