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'We are scared and helpless’: Kashmiri students trapped in war-torn Ukraine

Students stuck in various cities of Ukraine said that sirens were sounded across Ukraine while explosions were reported in cities such as Kyiv, Kharkiv and Lutsk among many others.

February 26, 2022 / 09:41 AM IST
Ukrainians’ uneasy efforts at normality were shattered on February 24. A Russian attack, after weeks of warnings, had hit home. (Image: AP)

Ukrainians’ uneasy efforts at normality were shattered on February 24. A Russian attack, after weeks of warnings, had hit home. (Image: AP)

Following Russia’s military operations in Ukraine, panic has gripped the students of Jammu and Kashmir studying in different universities and colleges of Ukraine.

Around 200 students mostly from Kashmir are currently trapped in war-torn Ukraine even as the families back in Kashmir are apprehensive, making fervent appeals to Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha to get their children back home safely. 

On Thursday Russian President Vladimir Putin’s televised statement of a “military operation” in Ukraine, in eastern Europe started despite repeated warnings by the US and its NATO allies.

Students stuck in various cities of Ukraine said that sirens were sounded across Ukraine while explosions were reported in cities such as Kyiv, Kharkiv and Lutsk among many others.

Aasif Bashir Lone, a student pursuing MBBS in Ukraine’s capital city Kyiv told MoneyControl that the situation is tense and has deteriorated compared to Thursday. 

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“The atmosphere is scary here with sirens blowing every five minutes alerting people about the war. The military planes are hovering in the sky and loud explosions possibly missiles have destroyed the petrol bombs, airports and water supply,” said terrified Lone who along with other Indian students were moved to the basement by the university administration.

Read also: Ukraine couple married amid sound of air sirens, join volunteer group the next day

Lone who hails from Lolab area of north Kashmir’s Kupwara district added that the Indian Embassy in Ukraine seems helpless because they are not getting any information from the Indian government. “The embassy however tried to evacuate us towards Poland but because roadways and airports are shut nobody can go out or come inside the country.”

During the conversation with MoneyControl on phone, Lone said that an air alert was announced in the Kyiv city as an air attack may be launched by the Russian military. “We have received information that Russia has captured a nuclear power plant. Therefore, the internet as well as electricity may be blocked anytime due to which I may not be able to contact my worried parents back home,” the student said amid desperation. 

Panicked students in other cities of Ukraine posted their appeal to the concerned authorities by uploading videos on twitter.

Berkhaiz Bhat, a stranded student, tweeted on Thursday that more than 20 students of Kashmir are trapped in Kharkiv, 40 km from the border while feeding themselves with chocolates.

Saqlain Ali Bhat (25), a fourth-year student pursuing MBBS at Kharkiv National Medical University, told MoneyControl that no one can predict what will happen after a minute. “Everything was fine here till Wednesday. We even joined our classes in the university. However, on Thursday we woke up to sirens, heavy explosions rocking the city and deserted streets.”

Bhat who hails from Anantnag district in south Kashmir added that his parents back home could not sleep throughout the night. “Every 30 minutes my parents and relatives are calling me to know if I am safe,” said Bhat who is staying put in an apartment in Kharkiv city.

Rosy Qureshi mother of an MBBS girl student Yusra Chasti of Bemina Srinagar told MoneyControl that her daughter is stuck in Ukraine and she is desperate about her condition. “My daughter has been asked to be ready for any emergency. Our children are at risk and it is the responsibility of the government to bring them back safely,” said anguished Qureshi while urging the government to evacuate the Kashmiri students from Ukraine.

Read also: India considers setting up separate rupee account with Russia to soften sanctions blow: Report

With around 20,000 Indians stuck in Ukraine, the Indian Embassy in Kyiv on Thursday issued an advisory appealing to Indians in Ukraine to “maintain calm, and remain safe wherever you are, be it in your homes, hostels, accommodations or in transit.”

The advisory added that those travelling to Kyiv should return to their respective cities, “especially towards safer places along the western bordering countries.”

National spokesperson JKSA, Nasir Khuehami told MoneyControl that 170-200 students are currently trapped in Ukraine and contact details of only 40 students were traced and submitted to the J&K administration. 

“I have been told that efforts are on from the External Affairs Ministry and Indian Embassy in Ukraine to bring back students on a fast track basis,” Khuehami said.

 



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Irfan Amin Malik is a freelance journalist based in J&K. He tweets @irfanaminmalik
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