‘GoI welcomes us with roses in India but does not bother to evacuate us from war-ravaged Ukraine’

People take shelter in basement as Russia continues shelling in Ukraine. [Photo: Twitter/Berkhaiz Bhat]

New Delhi: As the Government of India claims to have been extending help to its nationals in war-ravaged Ukraine and evacuating hundreds of them so far, a wave of anger and exasperation is being seen among the recently arrived evacuees as they allege GoI of showing ‘fake’ concerns.

An Indian student, Divyanshu Singh, a resident of Motihari Bihar, who was interviewed by Delhi-based news channels, said that he along with other students received help from Indian officials but only after students crossed the border but not in Ukraine.

“Despite whatever the situation was instead of officials from the Indian embassy we were helped by local Ukrainians,” the student said, adding, “some students even faced harassment at Poland border”.

“Officials are giving us roses at the airport. But when we were stranded at the borders, nobody came to help us. Had the government evacuated us on time, there would have been no need for these show-offs”.

Singh added that the government of India is responsible for what Indian students and other professionals face in Ukraine.

He said things would have been better had GoI taken the action earlier. The advisories to other nationals were issued a long time back but the Indian embassy in Kyiv issued the advisory yesterday asking them to leave the city at “short notice”.

He said that his family and other Indians who crossed the border along with him are worried as anything could have happened with them.

In another video, a student alleges that there is nothing called ‘evacuation’ happening in Ukraine as claimed by the Indian government.

“We would have called it evacuation if GoI would have helped us to get out from the war zone. They (GoI) issued the advisory asking students to come out from the war zone and cross the border and then the help would be extended,” the student said in the video.

“I was in Odessa city of Ukraine where Russian troops destroyed the military base in the initial days of the invasion, there was continuous shelling, we ourselves managed to get out of the area, got into the buses, and expected the cooperation from Indian government at the border, however, nothing sort of happened,” the student alleged.

One video shows an Indian student who talks behind the camera saying that he along with three other Indian students are with Pakistani nationals as they could not find any embassy official from India.

“Yesterday after reaching Lviv from Kharkiv, there was a huge rush and we did not find any officials from the Indian embassy there leading us to join Pakistani counterparts,” a male voice said behind the camera.

Earlier, a video clip showing people screaming as shelling continues in the area was shared by Congress politician Rahul Gandhi.

“My heart goes out to the Indian students suffering such violence and their family watching these videos. No parent should go through this,” he tweeted. Gandhi added, “we can’t abandon our own people”.

So far, two Indians have died in Ukraine. Naveen Shekarappa Gyanagoudar, a native of Chalageri in Haveri district of Karnataka, was the first Indian who lost his life in Russian shelling in Ukraine’s Kharkiv.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had confirmed the death in a tweet and said it was in touch with the family of the student.

“With profound sorrow, we confirm that an Indian student lost his life in shelling in Kharkiv this morning,” it said. The ministry said it is in touch with the family of the student. “We convey our deepest condolences to the family,” it had said.

Another student Chandan Jindal, 22, of Vinnytsia National Pyrogov, Memorial Medical University, Vinnytsia Ukraine, died after suffering an Ischemic stroke. Jindal was admitted to Emergency Hospital Vinnytsia (Kyivska street 68) but could not survive.

Earlier, people in Delhi lit candles and kept flowers outside the Ukraine Embassy in memory of those who lost their lives in the shelling and fight.

On March 2, as Indian nationals from Ukraine return home through ‘special flights’ arranged as part of Operation Ganga – India’s evacuation mission for its nationals stranded amidst a raging war – several GoI officials were seen welcoming them on their landing and raising slogans of “Bharat Mata Ki Jai (Long live mother India)” and “Vande Mataram (Praise to the motherland)”.

In one video, Smriti Irani, a GoI minister, can be seen welcoming the students inside an IndiGo airlines aircraft. Speaking into the public address system, she says the evacuated Indians have shown “exemplary courage” in the “most challenging of times”.

“I am grateful for your resilience, for your courage and patience,” she says and leads the slogans of “Bharat Mata Ki Jai”.

Pertinently, families of several Jammu-based students who are stuck in Kharkiv staged a protest on Wednesday and made a passionate appeal to the GoI for the early evacuation.

They also asked the people of India to offer special prayers for the safe return of the trapped students.

The protest was staged outside the Press Club Jammu. Carrying placards that read “save our children”, the worried parents claimed that no help was extended by the Indian Embassy to the students who are facing ‘extremely difficult’ situations.

Many casualties were witnessed in Ukraine and those killed include civilians as well as soldiers of the country.

On Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that Ukraine is not leaving behind from the fight and will never lay down the weapons.

“We aren’t going to lay down weapons. We will protect the country,” the Ukrainian president said.

“Our weapon is our truth, and our truth is that it’s our land, our country, our children. And we will defend all of that.”

US officials believe Russian President Vladimir Putin is determined to overthrow Ukraine’s government and replace it with a regime of his own.

The invasion represented Putin’s boldest effort yet to redraw the map of Europe and revive Moscow’s Cold War-era influence. It triggered new international efforts to end the invasion, including direct sanctions on Putin.

On the seventh day of Russia’s invasion, on Wednesday, Zelenskyy said that about 6,000 Russians have been killed in the first six days of the war. He said Russian airborne forces landed in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, which has been heavily shelled in recent days.

According to the city mayor, at least 21 people have been killed, and 112 have been injured in shelling in the previous 24 hours.

Also in Sumy, Chernihiv, and Kyiv, air raid alerts were issued by the government, and the residents were advised to go to the nearest shelter.


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