The evacuation of around 600 Indian students at Sumy State University in northeastern Ukraine was put on hold at the last minute on Monday after the Indian Embassy reportedly informed the college that it would not be safe for them to begin their journey to the Romania border.
In a video address on Monday, one of the students, Mahtab, said, “Some buses had arrived today to evacuate us but some information was received from Indian government through our embassy to our university officials that it will not be safe to carry out evacuation today. Girls were ready and had boarded the buses but they were asked to return to hostel. But seeing the buses we all believe that we will be evacuated soon. We were extremely happy and now we believe that we will soon be evacuated and reach our homes soon. I want to thank the Indian government and the Indian embassy for all their efforts.”
The medical students will have to wait at least till Tuesday as the evacuation plan had to be kept on hold due to security reasons. The delay has left many students draught, with Monday being the 12th day since the Russian invasion began.
On Sunday, the students had heaved a sigh of relief after they were informed that they may be evacuated on Monday. The Indian Embassy in Ukraine also tweeted, “Team from Embassy of India is stationed in Poltava City to coordinate the safe passage of Indian students stranded in Sumy to Western borders via Poltava. Confirmed time & date will be issued soon…students advised to be ready to leave on short notice.”
For many days, these students have been living under the fear of getting harmed in the crossfire. They have been waking up to the sounds of explosions, shelling and gunfire. Air raid sirens and subsequent electricity cuts have made them nervous, with many of them running in and out of bunkers on a daily basis. Scanty food and water supply has added to their horrific situation, gradually making them lose hope of getting out safely.
On Saturday, a huge group of students decided to take the risk of self-evacuation and had conveyed the message though a video posted on social media and news groups. Within 90 minutes, the Minry of External Affairs had asked them to reconsider their decision, adding that all efforts are being made to take them to safety.
Renish Joseph, a student coordinator with Sumy State University who has been communicating with Indian officials, took steps to calm the students down while asking them to be ready for evacuation.