Stranded Indians at Ukraine-Poland border face bone-chilling cold, little foodtext_fields
Kyiv: It was like Second World War again: aircraft whizz past overhead, mushrooms of bomb explosions lit up skies, heady sirens boom, and people carrying their belongings trudge towards safety in the freezing cold.
For most Ukrainians coming of age decades after WWII, this is a new experience—at least they have stories of the past generations' sufferings to bolster them up. As for Indians caught in the war-torn country, war and subsequent human catastrophe are just stuff they learn in history books.
Most Indians out there never anticipated the landfall of the looming war. It was up there as reports in the media, suddenly they saw fire descending from the skies and there was war like what they see in Hollywood flicks. At least some batches of students scrambled home as the tension began mounting between Ukraine and Russia. Many couldn't. The past many days, as the war raging, several Indian students trudged 35 km in bone-chilling cold to reach Ukraine's border with Poland. Reports trickling in from warfront say that Indian students, escaping the war, are now stuck at the border with little to eat and having no shelter over their heads.
One student in a video clip yesterday said that they were waiting at the border and police roughed them up. They were reportedly rough-sleeping in parks enduring below minus 4 degree temperatures. Another student complained of no access to ATMs to take money, and while some wanly looked at their dwindling food stocks.
"It was an extremely long walk and our bodies were giving up but we just kept moving, taking care of each other in the hope that once we reach the border, maybe, the worst will be over. But that's not the end, several hours later we are still waiting. We have tried all helpline numbers but there has been no response," Nrupakshi, a student of Horbachevsky Ternopil National Medical University, told PTI over phone.
As they send out SOS for help, most students are loath to having to panicking their parents. However, Nrupakshi haling from Gujarat told PTI of sending out several SOS messages. Because students including Nrupakshi were fearing of phone batteries dying.
According to Nikhil Kumar of the University, none of the phone numbers handed to them by the embassy were working, despite calling each of them. A few of them rough-sleeping in the park fell sick. Students ran out foods they carried along and had no idea where to look up for supplies. As many as 400 students, according to him, were stranded at the Polish border waiting to cross.
Ashutosh, a student of Danylo Halytsky Lviv National Medical University, along with others, came to the border half a way in bus and then walked for over 30 km. All along they took break from walking when there was air raid. Sirens nearly ripped their hearts.
The Indian Embassy in Ukraine tweeted on Sunday asking students not to head to border posts without first being told so by Indian officials. The embassy found it increasingly difficult to help Indians crossing the border without prior intimation.
The embassy reportedly recommended Ukraine's western cities, having access to water, food, and accommodation, relatively safer compared to students heading to border posts.
India is evacuating its people stranded in Ukraine through bordering Hungary, Poland, the Slovak Republic and Romania as the Ukrainian airspace was shut down following Russian bombing of several cities, including the capital Kiev, PTI reported.