In Depth

Kremlin-Kyiv clash: Sleepless nights and a long wait

Photo: Twitter/Berkhaiz Bhat

Following the Kremlin-Kyiv clash, parents of the stranded Kashmiri students in Ukraine are pleading powers to bring back their children. 

Tasleema lost her calm when she saw images of war on her smartphone.

It was Thursday morning, February 24, and her daughter was yet to call from the country whose backyard was bombed by Vladimir Putin’s military belligerence.

In panic mode, she dialed her daughter’s number and became even more anxious. Her repeated calls went unanswered.

Among the 180 reported Kashmiri students stuck in different parts of the invaded country was Tasleema’s daughter pursuing MBBS in Ukraine’s Zaprohzia State Medical University.

When the girl in her early twenties finally talked to her mother, she sounded petrified.

“She was with other Kashmiri students stuck in the hostel with no food and other essentials in place,” the anxious mother said.

“They were appealing to the college authorities to take steps for their evacuation but nothing was being done. They’re living in fear.”

Like Tasleema, when Mushtaq Ahmad saw the images of war on his social media handle, he struggled to reach out to his son studying medicine in Ukraine.

“Putin’s bombs are giving us sleepless nights,” the distraught father said.

“It’s hard to believe that our sons and daughters are also at the receiving of this war frenzy.”

Explosion in Kyiv, Ukrainian capital, on February 24. [Photo: Twitter/Michael Holmes]

These Kashmiri parents are holding campus authorities responsible for their children’s delayed departure from Ukraine.

But now as the invasion has already become invasive, many of these Kashmiri boys and girls have gone underground.

Fearing raining missiles, they’ve taken shelter inside subways and metro stations.

“What’s equally the cause of concern for us is the poor connectivity due to disrupted internet services and frequent power cuts,” Mushtaq said.

“Before this war becomes murkier, we want our kids back home.”

Even as the scheduled evacuation flights were cancelled after the Russian army blocked exit routes including airports, both Ministry of External Affairs and Raj Bhavan have said that the measures have been initiated to bring Kashmiri boys and girls back home.

“I was constantly telling my daughter to come back home when Russia started threatening to invade Ukraine,” said Imtiyaz Dar, whose daughter is also studying medicine in the country.

An injured woman being evacuated as Russia bombs a civilian apartment complex in Chuhuiv, near Kharkiv. [Photo: Twitter/ Alexander Lourie]

“She would tell me that her campus was constantly painting a hunky dory image of the situation and encouraging us to stay. Even the local residents—now running from the war towards Europe—seemed unfazed by the Putin’s belligerent guards.”

But now as Kyiv has fallen to Kremlin, another Kashmiri student pursuing MBBS in the country has sent home an SOS: “We’re living in constant fear and stress. Tanks are rumbling on highways. Russian army is almost everywhere. The place where we are residing is just 45 km away from Russian border. We want to come home.”

Amid this anxiety and agony, Kashmiri parents want government of India to repeat Yemen-type rescue operation.

“We don’t know what tomorrow holds for our children,” the parent of the stranded child said.

“But we somehow want them home.”

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