Ukraine: Several Sikkimese students are among the 20,000 Indians stranded in war-torn Ukraine as Russia started pounding its former territory with bombs and missiles from Thursday morning.
No evacuation through Air India was possible because of missile attacks and a martial law has been imposed in the beleaguered nation.
Families of these stranded Sikkimese students are deeply worried about the safety of their children as the war could continue with food and water supplies running out in most Ukrainian cities including capital Kyiv.
It cannot be ascertained as to how many Sikkimese students are at Ukraine presently. However, speaking with some guardians, it is estimated that there are above 30 Sikkimese students pursuing medical and other courses in different universities at Ukraine.
Most of them are from South Sikkim and West Sikkim, and as per their parents, are not in proper contact as the war broke out.
Among these students, one is Phurba Sherpa from Okharey, West Sikkim.
Speaking with digital media houses including Swatantra Aawaj, Phurba’s mother Diki Lhamu Sherpa informed that she was in touch with her son till Thursday morning.
Ukraine Has No Internet, Students Cannot Find Cash
“My son shared that it is difficult to buy food. Mostly digital payment is done while making purchases in Ukraine but after the war started, there is no internet and people are unable to find cash to purchase items.
We are in touch through Whatsapp messages,” she told Swatantra Aawaj over phone.
Phurba had gone to Ukraine as a first year MBBS student last December.
Even the flight tickets have become expensive and we are also unable to send money to our son as the banks in Ukraine are closed, added Diki Lhamu.
We appeal to the State government to get in touch with the Centre and Indian Embassy in Kviy for safety of our children and ensure their early evacuation, the parents said.
They informed there could be 30 to 50 students from Sikkim presently in Ukraine.
Similarly, Shreyash D. Rai from South Sikkim could not return home from Ukraine as her flight to Delhi got cancelled owing to the war. She is a first year MBBS student in Kiev.
Her father A.D. Rai informed Swatantra Awaj that his daughter was to return from Ukraine on Wednesday but the flight got cancelled.
Rai was in Delhi to receive his daughter.
“The students have been directed to stay in their hostels. It is not clear whether they have sufficient food and water. The banks are also closed and we are unable to send money. We appeal the State government to contact the Centre urgently and safely bring back our Sikkimese students,” appealed Rai.
Amidst the prevailing tension, the Indian students stranded in Ukraine are left with no choice but to queue up outside the Indian Embassy in Kiev seeking the authorities’ help as they ran out of food and money.
“As you are aware, Ukraine is under martial law, which has made movement difficult. For those students who are stranded without a place of stay in Kyiv, Mission is in touch with establishments to put them up.
We are aware that certain places are hearing air sirens/bomb warnings. In case you are faced with such a situation, google map has a list of nearby bomb shelters, many of which are located in underground metros,” reads the advisory issued to Indian nationals and students in Ukraine.
Sources in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) have said that the government is reviewing options to evacuate Indians and students via the neighbouring countries like Poland, Hungary, Moldova and Romania but before taking any final decision, the government is evaluating all possible actions.
Similarly, the guardians of Sita Sharma from Gerathang, who is studying in Ukraine for past four years, have appealed support from the State government for her safe return.
Most of the guardians have shared that the plane tickets have become expensive and it is difficult for them or the students to raise such huge amount immediately. We, the guardians, are trying to contact each other and collectively approach the Chief Minister’s Office and Prime Minister’s Office seeking help for our children stranded in Ukraine, they said.