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Losing hope of evacuation, Indian students spend sleepless nights with little or no food

Although the Indian embassy has been asking students to take trains to cities in the west of the country, Elizabeth said none of her friends were able to step out of the metro station on Sunday due to heavy shelling.

Written by Anonna Dutt | New Delhi |
Updated: February 28, 2022 7:24:56 am
India, India latest news, Russia, Ukraine, Russia Ukraine crisis, Russian invasion, Indians stranded in Ukraine, Indian students in Ukraine, indian expressIndians on the fourth evacuation flight from Bucharest. Twitter/@DrSJaishankar

Elizabeth Devasia, a medical student from Kerala who studies at Karazin National University in Kharkiv, has been sleeping in a metro station for four nights since the war broke out in Ukraine.

With the city being the centre of clashes between the Russian army and Ukrainians, she along with 18 other Indian students at the metro station hasn’t been able to step outside.

“We ate whatever we carried with us but now we have run out of food,” she told The Indian Express over phone on Sunday.

She couldn’t recall what exactly her last meal was. She asked her friend and replied, “I had some bread yesterday.” Water supply was started on Sunday to the metro station, where nearly 500 people have taken refuge. “The people here are trying to arrange some food too, but with constant fighting that may not be possible,” Elizabeth said.

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Although the Indian embassy has been asking students to take trains to cities in the west of the country, Elizabeth said none of her friends were able to step out of the metro station on Sunday due to heavy shelling.

After India abstained from vote at the UNSC, Devasia said her friend was harassed by the Ukrainian guards at the metro station he took refuge in.

Anurag Punia of Haryana, a third-year medical student at Kharkiv National Medical University, was stranded in Kyiv when the city airport was closed just before he was to board a flight to India. He has been living in a school just 20 metres from the Indian embassy since. He, however, says that the Indian embassy hasn’t really been able to help him or the 450 others living at the school.

With the trains being the only public transport functioning, Punia was elated when he was told that seats were booked for students to reach western border towns of Ivano and Chernivitsi on Saturday. “Over 250 people reached the train station. But there were no embassy officials there. There were locals carrying guns and they did not let us board the train,” said Punia.

He said when they reached back there were only 180 people left at the school. “We don’t know where the others went. We can’t contact them.”

Adhivesh Dhama, a medical college student from Meerut in Uttar Pradesh who reached Kyiv less than three months ago, said he is stuck with 250 other students at a hostel in the Kyiv Medical College. He said he has lost all hope of evacuation and is scared of the armed locals.

“There is no law here and the government has armed the locals. Four men with guns broke the doors and forcibly entered the gym in the basement of our hostel. Seeing that there were so many of us, they left. Now, we have blocked the doorway with furniture and branches of tree. We haven’t slept for three days,” said Dhama.

When his parents called the embassy, they were asked to communicate with the person who arranges for admission and travel to Ukraine for the medical students and arrange a bus to the border.

“We have spoken to so many bus drivers. We told them we will pay 10 to 20 lakh if they ask for it for dropping us to the border. But no one agreed. They say they do not have any fuel left. The Indian embassy is evacuating those who are able to cross the border. Those living in cities like Lviv close to Polish border can reach there. We are over 900 km away, how do we go there?”

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