'More than 15,000 Indian students stranded in Ukraine'

Ambassador of India
A screengrab of Ambassador of India to Ukraine, Partha Satpathy interacting with Indian students in Kyiv on Thursday.

New Delhi: The Embassy of India in Kyiv has asked the President of Ukraine to ensure the safety and security of over 15,000 Indian students stranded in the Eastern European nation that is under attack from Russia.

Meanwhile, as the situation in Ukraine worsens, hundreds of stranded Indian students have made desperate appeals to the government.

Several videos emerged on social media in which teary-eyed students urged the Indian authorities to make arrangements for their return. The videos have gone viral on social media, with several prominent personalities sharing them and calling on the government to take action.

In one such video, around a dozen visibly-distressed students were seen stranded on a railway station in the capital city of Kyiv.

"We are very worried. We are stuck at the railway station from last night. The embassy is not replying. We do not have anywhere to go, no taxi is available. No help from the embassy. What should we do?" one of the students says in the video.

In another video, students with their packed bags were seen standing outside the Indian embassy, waiting for any response from the officials.

As per estimates, over 20,000 Indians are currently staying in Ukraine.

The embassy of India in Ukraine had advised Indian nationals in the country to refrain from travelling to Kyiv.

Panic gripped several cities of Ukraine after Russian President Vladimir Putin, in an early morning address, announced a military operation against the European country.

This has triggered serious concerns over the possibility of a full-scale military confrontation between the two countries.

Following Putin's announcement, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said an "invasion" could be the beginning of a "big war" in Europe.

Ukraine closed its airspace to civilian flights in view of high risk to safety.

Meanwhile, official sources told PTI that India is looking at ways to assist its nationals, especially students, in Ukraine.

Official sources said India is closely monitoring the "rapidly changing" situation in Ukraine and how to assist the Indians in that country.

"My so many friends were going home from Kyiv. However, they were stopped before reaching the airport because of the blast. They had to return to university midway. When they asked for help from the embassy, no help was provided to them. The university is saying you need not panic. Nobody is worried about us. What are we going to do?" said a distressed female student from Kyiv.

Calls from all around India are growing louder to ensure the safe return of the nationals.

"There are 18,000 Indian students and many families who are struck in Ukraine, I am sure Government must be trying their best to get them back. I urge Indian Embassy to find an alternate route for their evacuation. Praying for their safety," actor Sonu Sood tweeted.

Telangana IT and industries ministers KT Rama Rao appealed to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar to ensure the safety of the Indian students in Ukraine in these times of distress.

"Appeal to Dr S Jaishankar Ji to ensure the safety of the Indian students in Ukraine in these times of distress. Have been receiving several messages from anxious parents of students. Hope Govt of India can work through diplomatic channels & reassure all Indians at the earliest," Rao tweeted.

Meanwhile, activists of NSUI, the student wing of the Indian National Congress, staged a protest outside the Ministry of External Affairs demanding the safe and early evacuation of Indian students.

"There is a war-like situation in Ukraine for last 10 days. And since then, the parents of these students are appealing the government to help them. There are around 20,000 youths working and studying in Ukraine. The students are already burdened with huge loans and now during this tough situation airlines are charging Rs 80,000 to 1 lakh to bring the students back," National President Neeraj Kundan said.

Meanwhile, the top government brass handling strategic affairs held a series of high-level meetings to put into operation certain contingency plans to assist Indians stranded in Ukraine.

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