Haveri (Karnataka): When Ukraine is under pounding attack by Russian forces, and people in different places are fleeing and hiding in bunkers for life, and Indians, mostly medical students are making a beeline for stations they can catch a flight home, a group of students and workers from India, along with a large number of people from other countries, were reported to be marching on Wednesday in Kharkiv. Kharkiv is a city where a predominant number of students are located and has seen most of the evacuations.
The procession of people was a move to reach the nearest railway station, but in the process they were risking their lives and holding the Indian national flag, the father of one student said.
About 1,000 people, including 700 Indians, are marching towards the railway station holding the Indian flag. They are going to the railway station, which is seven kilometres from their bunker, on foot as no vehicles are available, Venkatesh Vaishyar was quoted by PTI as saying.
Venkatesh's son Amit V Vaishyar (23) is a fifth-year medical student in Kharkiv Medical College. He is among three students from Chalageri in Ranebennur taluk of Haveri district studying MBBS in Kharkiv Medical College.
On Tuesday, their junior 22-year-old Naveen Shekarappa Gyanagouda was killed in a shelling when he moved out of the bunker to fetch some food, water and exchange currency.
Amit's cousin Suman (24), son of Sridhar Murthy Vaishyar, is also a student there and both of them are trying to return from the strife-torn country. Many students were in a scramble for catching a bus, train or other vehicles, depending on where they are located, to go to Ukraine's borders and then cross to Poland, Romania or Hungary and then try for home-bound flights. Many have been walking considerable distance too, due either to traffic hurdles or non-availability of transport. Hundreds of students have reached India in this manner, but hundreds more are still stranded.
"Students have no option but to take the risk as they don't have food and water. They are relying on God now and walking towards the railway station," Venkatesh said.
With tears in his eyes, he said Amit is his only son and if something happens to him he will not be able to live.
Meanwhile, Naveen's father Shekarappa Gyanagouda broke down as he saw the photograph of his son's body on WhatsApp, which is in a morgue in Kharkiv.
Chief minister Basavaraj Bommai on Wednesday told reporters in Bengaluru that he will make sincere efforts to bring Naveen's body back to India. He said he would speak to external affairs Minister S Jaishankar and the Indian Embassy in Ukraine to get updates of the efforts to get Naveen's body. He promised to make a serious effort.
According to him, the Indian officials have intensified their efforts to evacuate people stranded in Kharkiv, especially students.
Bommai said 26 aircraft would be pressed into service to bring the stranded people back to India. The students have been asked to come from different directions.
Since the war is raging, evacuation is a bit problematic, Bommai said adding that the Ukrainian authorities have asked the evacuees to form groups and march towards the railway station.
Regarding compensation to Naveen's family, Bommai said the government can do anything but the priority right now is to bring the body to India.
"Whatever is in our hand we will do it. We will certainly give compensation. The family is in pain. We have to get the body first for which we have intensified our efforts," Bommai said.
Another unidentified student from Haveri district sustained injuries due to the shelling in Kharkiv, Bommai had said on Tuesday.