The tragic death of Indian student Naveen Shekharappa G in Ukraine’s Kharkiv has sharply brought home the extreme dangers confronting Indian citizens in that country. Naveen, hailing from Haveri in Karnataka, was a fourth-year student at Kharkiv National Medical University. He had taken shelter in the bunker below his flat as the Russian bombardment of Kharkiv intensified. He had reportedly gone out to buy food when he lost his life in the shelling.
With thousands of Indian students still trapped in different parts of Ukraine, this is an extremely complicated situation. True, GOI has stepped up efforts to bring Indian citizens back from the war-torn country. But with the Russian invasion in full swing and reports emerging of Moscow deploying even heavier armaments in its military operations, things could get far worse. As things stand, GOI’s plan is to get stranded Indians to nations neighbouring Ukraine like Poland, Romania, Moldova, Slovakia and Hungary, and then fly them back home. But the real challenge for the rescue mission lies within Ukraine itself. With the war there intensifying, transport options have become extremely limited and there is a crush of refugees at Ukraine’s western borders. Thus, asking Indian students to get to extraction points would mean they would have to risk their lives as bombs fall on Ukrainian cities.
Given this scenario, India has called on Ukraine and Russia to facilitate urgent safe passage for Indian nationals. But frankly speaking it is the Russian military assault that is endangering the lives of Indians in Ukraine. And with the conflict escalating, the possibility of more tragedies affecting India cannot be ruled out. If that happens, India has to seriously reconsider its neutral position on the Ukraine situation as well as review its strategic ties with Russia. New Delhi must draw a line at Indian lives.
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