The plight of Indian students, who had become one of the most silent sufferers of ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, has become a talking point on social media.
The evacuation process, which began on March 8, however, ended. Before that, countless images that flooded the social media poignantly depicted picture of the tragedy that has struck them. Social media discussions harped on the hotly debated topic: How safe are Indian students in overseas?
The issue of safety of Indian students in the face of Russian shelling had become quite a subject of discussion on social platforms. It prompted the government to ramp up rescue efforts through Operation Ganga, which according to opposition parties have failed to live up to the expectations of the people.
The twitter image of Indian students in Sumy, who are seen collecting snow to drink, has become of the most telling proof of their ordeal.
In war-torn Sumy, the Indian students, much like millions of Ukrainians in cities across the country, stared at an uncertain future.
Social media images show scores of Indian students living in ‘dungeon-like’ bunkers in Ukrainian capital Kyiv and other cities.
Santhosh, a medical student in Sumi, couldn’t hide his anxiety as desperation was clearly obvious in his brief conversation with the media.
“I along with other Indian students just want to reach home. The horrific happenings in and around us are just too much to bear for us. We are constantly fearing unsafe and somehow surviving with constant fear of being wiped out any time given the scale of bombardment being witnessed here,” he said.
Several dozen students who had hoped to be ferried to a safer city, away from Russian attacks, however, received WhatsApp messages from the Indian embassy. It came as somewhat relief amid all the gloom and doom.
Two days ago, a temporary ceasefire negotiated between Russia and Ukraine to allow civilians to flee four cities, including Sumy, had failed.
It forced Santhosh, who left the bus to return to the hostel above the dark bunker where hundreds of students have huddled for days with little food and no electricity.
Many students said they were forced to melt snow to quench their thirst.
At present, more than 14,000 Indians are currently enrolled in Ukraine universities — the single largest group of foreign students in the country, UNESCO said.
According to the Indian government, till March 8, only about 700 remained in that country. Most of them were stranded in Sumy.
The latest reports confirmed, nearly three-day evacuation process saw stranded Indian students ferried from Ukraine to Poltava under Operation Ganga. The International Committee of the Red Cross, Ukrainian authorities, and Indian embassy officials ensured the evacuation in a convoy of roughly 12 buses.