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This article was first published 2 years ago  » News » 'Indians faced discrimination in Ukraine'

'Indians faced discrimination in Ukraine'

Source: PTI   -  Edited By: Hemant Waje
March 04, 2022 22:45 IST
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Odia students returning home from war-torn Ukraine on Friday narrated their ordeal of having to walk miles in sub-zero temperatures waiving the Indian Tricolour and being heckled by Ukrainian soldiers before crossing the border to safety.

IMAGE: Indian nationals arrive  in New Delhi after being evacuated from war-torn Ukraine under Operation Ganga. Photograph: ANI Photo

The Odisha government said that 65 students from the state were rescued from war-ravaged Kharkiv during the day, and efforts are underway to evacuate all Odia students from Ukraine within the next 24 hours. It said at least 199 Odia students have returned to the state from the eastern European nation so far.

Aritri Angelina Behera, a medical student from Cuttack who was among the 11 students who returned to Odisha from Ukraine during the day, thanked both the Centre and the state government for making arrangements for their evacuation.

"Once we crossed Ukraine, representatives of the Indian Embassy and the Odisha government made all arrangements for our safe return. But the real challenge was crossing the country.

"We lived in a bunker since February 24 and exited it only three days later. Every second was challenging while crossing Ukraine. However, we held the Indian Tricolour high and walked miles to reach the border," she said.


Eureka Choudhury, another student who returned to Odisha, alleged that Indians faced discrimination in Ukraine.

"The Ukrainian soldiers were cordial to Nigerians and others but were harsh on Indians. I was heckled by them before crossing the international border to enter Romania. We walked 12 km in minus six degrees Celsius, which was really painful," she said.

Asish Bisi and Dinesh Sahu, who returned from Kharkiv, said that more students are still trapped in Ukraine, and they need to be evacuated immediately as the situation was worsening by the day.

The Odisha government, which has nominated special representatives to coordinate the safe evacuation of people from the state, arranged special buses for the transportation of 65 students from Kharkiv to Ukraine's international borders, from where they would return to India.

The administration said that several people from Odisha have crossed over to Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia from where they were being evacuated by the Ministry of External Affairs on special flights.

The state government has deputed Vikramaditya, vice-president of KIIT and KISS universities, to look after overall coordination for evacuation of students from Poland, while Arushi Ray of UNHCR has been assigned to coordinate the safe passage of students who have reached Hungary.

Similarly, Baishali Mohanty, a UN policy officer in Rome, will look after the evacuation from Romania and Anurag Pattnaik, who is based in Hungary, will coordinate in Slovakia. PTI AAM

'Sub-zero temperature, traffic jams, hostile border guards'

For Bhumika Shardul and her friends, the 72-hour journey to Ukraine's border is now almost a blur.

The only thing that kept them going was the resolve to return home, she says.

Shardul, who hails from Aurangabad in central Maharashtra, was among hundreds of young Indian women and men who had traveled to Ukraine to study medicine and got stranded when Russia invaded the eastern European country last week.

Shardul, a student of Danylo Halytsky Lviv National Medical University, reached Aurangabad on Thursday night.

"On February 24, the situation in Ukraine worsened and we decided to return to India. But it was not easy and getting a cab or private vehicle to reach the Poland border was very difficult," she told PTI.

"Then we found a cab driver who was ready to give us a ride. We thought we would now reach the border without hassle, but we were wrong," she said.

The distance was not much, but they ran into a traffic jam 30 km before the border.

"The cab driver refused to go further. So we walked nearly 30 km with each of us carrying about 25 kg of luggage. The temperature sometimes dropped to -7 degrees Celsius," Shardul said.

She had four apples, a water bottle and a couple of biscuit packets in her bag, on which she survived till reaching the border.

"It took us nearly 72 hours. But there was no time to rest. We had to walk to another check post for further clearance," she said.

The Ukrainian soldiers at border posts were certainly not friendly, according to Shardul.

"They tried to threaten us at gun point. By this time we had almost lost our senses. One of my friends doesn't even remember what he was doing there. Only our goal of crossing the Poland border brought us home safely," she added.

She expects that the evacuation crisis caused by the war in Ukraine will make the authorities in India reform the medical education system.

"We are middle-class people. Many families like mine have the wish to see their children become doctors and serve society. But in India one needs at least one crore rupees to become a doctor. There are very few seats. That is why students like me opt for Ukraine," she said.

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Source: PTI  -  Edited By: Hemant Waje© Copyright 2024 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.
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