Indian students evacuated from besieged Sumy
More than 650 Indian students were evacuated from the war-torn Ukrainian city of Sumy.
Sumy is a hub of educational institutions and is home to many international students. Since the war broke out, it has become a theatre of intense battle. For the last several days, Sumy has been witnessing heavy shelling and intense exchange of fire between Russians and Ukrainian forces.
Stuck in the quagmire, Indians and other international students had made several desperate pleas for evacuation via social media, but the Indian mission and its teams on the ground were helpless as there was no safe passage in the war zone.
Even at one stage, supply of food and water became a difficult task.
Moreover, both Russia and Ukraine failed to honour the ceasefire and bombings in and around the city continued unabated.
The first attempt to evacuate students on March 7 failed as a safe passage for students could not be secured.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to both Russian President Vladamir Putin and Ukrainian President Zelenskyy, during which both leaders assured the safe evacuation of students.
According to reports, arrangements for the evacuation of stranded Indian students were made on both sides of Ukraine and the Russian border.
Hiring buses in the war-torn region was also a daunting challenge, said one official.
Ukrainian drivers were not willing to drive towards the Russian side. However, finally, local arrangements for buses were made. According to sources, India demanded an escort from Ukraine, and it was provided after some delay.
The Red Cross also helped, and humanitarian passage for all international students was created, and students were finally evacuated. They were asked to maintain radio silence until they crossed the danger zone.
Students boarded the buses and reached Poltava. They will be boarding a special train to cross the border and are expected to reach India on March 9 by special flights.
India has brought back nearly 20,000 stranded citizens from the war-torn country so far.