Akanksha Katiyar was jerked awake around 4 a.m. Ukrainian time by the sound of a distant explosion that shook the building and set off the sensors of automobiles parked nearby.
A few blocks away, Aruj Raj VN, who has a fever, had an early morning knock on the house from friends who had come over with news of the region’s dire developments.
With Russia announcing military action in Ukraine, hundreds of Indian students enrolled in Ukrainian higher education institutions, largely studying medical, are panicking and begging with authorities to assure their safe return to India.
“I got to sleep around 3 a.m. There were bombing sounds at 4 a.m. The window sill began to vibrate, and the motion sensors in the nearby automobiles went off at the same time. “Dil Saham jata hai,” Akanksha remarked over the phone from Kharkiv, a city in eastern Ukraine.
Arun, who, like Akanksha, is a medical student at VN Karazin Kharkiv National University, said locals are secretly flying out of Kharkiv, which is just 40 kilometers from Ukraine’s border with Russia.
“They are most likely attempting to get deeper, away from the boundary.” However, there is a great deal of ambiguity. Some of my pals who had left for the Kyiv airport last night to catch their scheduled flights to India are also stranded in the middle of their journey. “Their buses aren’t going,” remarked Arun, who has a return ticket on March 7.
It takes around seven hours to drive from Kharkiv to the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv.
“Tickets have been purchased, but my return date is now uncertain.” As far as I know, the airspace has been closed,” stated Arun. The Air India special flight, which was scheduled to bring back another batch of Indians, was forced to return midway owing to the closing of air space due to a “possible hazard to civil aviation.”
Akanksha, who is from Kanpur, said the India Embassy officials and local agents who helped them get into the medical school have urged them not to panic.
“Kaise na kare panic? Dil saham sa jata hai (how can we not be concerned? It’s terrible out here)…. Only a few of my pals have been able to flee. I attempted to book a berth as well, but was unsuccessful. “Ticket prices ranged from Rs 60,000 to Rs 60,000,” Akanksha explained.
Arpit Katiyar, another Kanpur resident, believes that expecting students to remain calm in such circumstances is unreasonable.
“Even our local agent, who organised our admissions and stay, says we shouldn’t be concerned.” But how can anyone remain calm when bombs are being dropped? I’m at a loss on what to do. Some claim that the airspace is now also closed. “I’m not sure if I’ll be able to return,” Arpit remarked.
The Indian Embassy in Kyiv issued an advisory on Thursday advising Indians in Ukraine to “stay calm and secure wherever you are, whether in your homes, hostels, accommodations, or in transportation.”
Those who have travelled to Kyiv should return to their respective locations, “particularly to safer places near the western neighbouring countries,” according to the alert. According to the pupils, the colleges have also resorted to an online form of instruction for the time being.
Arun, whose family is in Kanpur, said that while the Indian embassy did advise Indians to leave Ukraine temporarily by mid-February, “it came too late in comparison to other nations.”