A group of Indian students in Sumy, a city in conflict-hit Ukraine’s northeast, have asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for help to evacuate them amid the Russian invasion. In a video message, some 100 students are seen pleading for assistance in going to the western border of Ukraine, from where they can cross into neighbouring countries for a flight home.
The Russian invasion started in Ukraine’s eastern region. The capital Kyiv and second-biggest city Kharkiv towards the east are the worst hit. Thousands of Indian students from these areas have managed to cross into Poland, Hungary and other neighbouring countries, though they travelled on their own at great risk with whatever means of transport they could get.
“Nothing has been done for us. We have seen some foreign students leave Sumy on their own, but they were shot. We have videos to show it,” an Indian student said in the message. Behind him, about a hundred students are standing, all looking worried.
“We have been expecting the government to help, but we have got no information. Some are saying there are buses waiting in the Russian border, which is about 50 km from here. If we walk from the hostel, there are snipers in all four directions, everywhere. We fear airstrikes. Bombardment is happening every 20 minutes,” the student said.
Some 900 Indians are stranded on the campus, he said. “We are in hostel No. 3, which has 200 students, mostly girls. Each hostel has 200 or so students, and there are 800-900 Indians here,” he said.
The student panned the camera to the windows, which showed a snow-covered campus, where the temperature, the student said, is in minus degrees.
“We request Narendra Modi ji, please take us out of here, or else we will be killed. If we walk out from here on our own, we will be killed. We request the government of India, please help us,” the student said.
“There is no food, no water. No water in the toilets. Many haven’t had water to drink since last night. We are very worried,” the student said.
Some visuals from the campus in Sumy shows Indian students walking with buckets and scooping up snow after they ran out of water.
The Indian embassy last week warned of intense fighting in Kharkiv, Sumy and Kyiv. Reports say trains and buses have stopped running in Sumy, roads and bridges out of the city have been destroyed, and there is heavy street fighting.
The government has flown home thousands of Indian students who have managed to reach the western border in Ukraine. It has said it would operate as many evacuation flights as needed under Operation Ganga and flights are the least of the worries.
How the students would reach the western border from cities deep inside Ukraine is the biggest worry.