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Ukraine crisis: PM dials Putin, Zelenskyy for safe rescue of students as evacuation gets delayed further

New Delhi, Mar 7 (PTI) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday discussed with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelenskyy ways to start the stalled evacuation of Indian students from Ukraine’s besieged Sumy city pummelled by the invading Russian forces, officials said.

Modi conveyed his “deep concern” over the safety and security of the students and, during the 50-minute telephonic conversation, suggested direct talks between Putin and Ukrainian President Zelenskyy may “greatly assist” the ongoing peace efforts.

Meanwhile, Indian student Harjot Singh, who took four bullets while fleeing Ukrainian capital Kyiv a few days ago, landed at the Hindon airbase here on Monday evening, with his family heaving a sigh of relief. The 31-year-old student, was immediately shifted to the Army Hospital (Research And Referral) in an ambulance from the airport. His family members, who came to receive him at the airbase with bouquets, followed the ambulance in their car.

Minister of State for Civil Aviation V K Singh, who was in Poland to facilitate the evacuation of Indian students, told reporters, “The Indian embassy in Ukraine evacuated Harjot and his condition is stable. Harjot has been sent to the Army Hospital (Research And Referral) as no one is better than Army in treating bullet wounds.” The 700 odd students trapped in the dank and dreary basements of their hostels in frigid weather, meanwhile, are on edge with no water or electric supply, and having to go without food as ATMs have run dry and shops declining cards. “It has been 10 days (since) we have been waiting here but there is no ray of hope (as to) when we will be evacuated,” said a distraught Indian medical student stranded in the embattled northeastern city in a video message.

“We are not able to buy even food and essential items,” said the Sumy State University student.

A total of 1,314 Indians were airlifted on Monday on seven civilian flights from Ukraine’s neighbouring countries, the Civil Aviation Ministry said.

“Tomorrow, two special civilian flights are expected to operate from Suceva, Romania, to bring more than 400 Indians back home,” it said in a statement.

“Prime Minister Modi conveyed his deep concern for the safety and security of the Indian students still remaining in Sumy,” the PMO said in a statement.

It said Putin informed the prime minister about measures to create “humanitarian corridors” for facilitating the evacuation of civilians, mostly students.

It was the third telephone call between the two leaders after war in Ukraine began.

Russian authorities had announced they will start a ceasefire on Monday and open “humanitarian corridors” in key Ukrainian cities including Kyiv, Kharkiv and Sumy. However, it is unclear whether the evacuation has begun as heavy fighting continues.

“Prime Minister Modi welcomed the ongoing negotiations between Russia and Ukraine and expressed hope that they would lead to cessation of the conflict. He suggested that a direct conversation between President Putin and President Zelenskyy may greatly assist the ongoing peace efforts,” the MEA said.

Modi also spoke to Zelenskyy and sought his continued support for the evacuation of the Indians stuck in Sumy.

Zelenskyy informed the prime minister in detail about the “conflict situation” and the ongoing negotiations between Ukraine and Russia.

The Indian embassy in Ukraine on Sunday said a team from the mission has been stationed in Poltava city to coordinate the safe passage of the Indian students in Sumy to the western border via Poltava.

India’s student fraternity, however, plunged into the depths of despair after the promised ceasefire did not take hold and hostilities escalated.

“Our will power is going down. We are feeling demoralised… We are still waiting for an update,” Aashiq Hussain Sarkar, another Indian student stranded in Sumy, told PTI, Ajith Gangadharan, a fourth-year medical student, said, “We were almost ready to leave on foot. The government asked us to stay put and not take any risk so we stayed back. But for how long?” Indian students in Sumy had on Saturday posted a video clip declaring they have decided to risk the walk to the Russian border in biting cold amid the fighting, raising fears about their safety in the corridors of power in New Delhi.

After the video went viral, the Indian government asked the students to remain in shelters and assured them they will be rescued soon. The students relented but appear to be running out of patience now, as the war drags on. PTI MPB KR GJS DSP TDS DIV SRY SK SK SK

This report is auto-generated from PTI news service. ThePrint holds no responsibility for its content.

Source: The Print

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