Sikkim: Another group of Sikkim students studying in Ukraine landed at Pakyong today afternoon after being successfully evacuated from the country that is fighting an invasion from Russia.
All five students were studying medicine. Dipum Thakur, a Rabongla resident, was the student of Odessa National Medical University, situated in the Southern region of Ukraine, while Seden Ongmu Bhutia of Nandok, Yang Lamu Tamang of Ranipool, Rinchen Choden Lepcha of Pangthang and Prerna Kalwar of Jorethang were studying at Uzhhorod National University in West Ukraine.
Uzhhorod was relatively less affected in the on-going war, compared to the port city of Odessa.
The students were welcomed by Tourism and Civil Aviation minister B.S. Panth who assured the safety of their friends and colleagues who are yet to be evacuated. Panth spoke to the students and welcomed them with khadas.
Also present were Food and Civil Supplies advisor Inchung Bhutia, Culture department advisor Bhim Kumari Sharma, Sikkim Housing Board chairman Karma Tashi Bhutia, Pakyong district collector Tashi Chophel, SP Dr. Shiva P. Yellasari, and airport officials.
Sikkim Students Describe Their Journey
The five students who arrived at Pakyong today described their frantic journeys to the border.
Dipam Thakur said, “We were in continuous touch with the Indian Embassy who told us to reach up to the border, but reaching the border was a herculean task.
All the means of transport were stopped barring trains which were packed to the brim. It was one of the most difficult journeys. We had to cover a distance of about 1200 kilometres to reach the border and every kilometre felt like our last.”
“Everything was okay, until Russia invaded Ukraine. We were living a normal life and our studies were going on smoothly. After the declaration of war, it was a panic situation.”
“I am thankful to Chief Minister P.S. Tamang and other officials who were involved in rescuing us. The State officials were in constant touch with us. We were asked every hour about our journey, location and problems faced by us. Because of them I am here safe,” added Thakur, a fifth year student.
With the situation worsening, he expressed hope that other Sikkimese students from Ukraine are also brought back safely.
“We have reached our home safely but some of our friends are stuck there and we are in constant touch with them. We are advising them to come up to border through our experiences.”
Prerna Kalwar, also a fifth year student, said “We were told by the Indian Embassy to reach border on our own. Then we approached the Sikkim government who contacted our contractor through Indian officials and we were provided a bus to Hungarian border.
After our passports were checked, we were allowed to cross the border and return home.
“We have asked our university to conduct online classes but right now, we are mentally exhausted.”
Minister B.S. Panth said the safe return of the Sikkimese students in Ukraine was the result of good governance under the leadership of P.S. Golay.
“The Chief Minister’s Office has presently set up a monitoring cell which has been working 24×7. Out of 27 Sikkimese students, 6 students have arrived home. Others are in the process of returning to India.”
Karma Tashi Bhutia, also the SKM students’ wing chief convener, congratulated the five students for their safe return.
“On behalf of students’ wing, I want to thank Chief Minister P.S. Tamang and the Central government. Under the direction of Chief Minister, the Chief Minister’s PRO and team are providing all possible help to the students. We are in the process to evacuate other remaining students stuck there.”
Basant Kalwar, Prerna’s father, said that the relief his family felt after his daughter returned home could not be expressed in words. He thanked the Prime Minister and the Chief Minister for putting all efforts to bring home Sikkimese students.
Dipam’s father Deepak Thakur said, “We as a parent had nothing to do to bring our son home, everything was done by the State government. We are thankful to them.
We are happy to have our son back home.”
Seden’s mother Passang Ongmu Bhutia also expressed her thankfulness to the State and Central government.
Another student of Sikkim, Sneha Tamang, will be arriving at Pakyong on Wednesday.