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India evacuates 298 students from Pisochyn in Ukraine after Sewa International of RSS informs MEA about them, were harassed by local agents demanding hefty amounts

UK based Manu Khajuria, who is volunteer of RSS international wing Sewa International, informed MEA about the students stuck in Pisochyn after he got to know about them

On March 5, the Indian Embassy in Ukraine said the 298 Indian students stranded in Pisochyn in Ukraine have been evacuated. Pisochyn is one of the most adversely hit regions in Ukraine in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict. The Ministry of External Affairs and the Indian Embassy in Ukraine were informed on Saturday that around 300 students were stuck in Pisochyn waiting for evacuation, and they were out of essential supplies like food and water. The officials on the ground swung into action and immediately arranged food and water for the students. Later, on the same day, all the students were evacuated.

The series of events that led to the evacuation

On March 5, Manu Khajuria, an Indian living in the UK, came to know about the Indian students stuck in Pisochyn who were being harassed by the agents amidst the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict. Khajuria is volunteering with Sewa International, the international wing of RSS.

Agents were demanding $500 per person

The local agents who were in contact with the students in Ukraine were not only causing delay in their evacuation but also allegedly asking them a hefty amount per person to evacuate. The students who were stranded in Pisochyn said they were asked to pay anywhere between $200 to $500 per person for a seat on the bus. “Those who had money paid and left Pisochyn, but the remaining students did not have enough funds. We are waiting for the government to evacuate us,” a student said while seeking support from the government.

Screenshot shared by RSS volunteer.

External Ministry swung into action immediately

The Ministry of External Affairs and the teams of Union Ministers lodged in neighbouring countries of Ukraine to coordinate the evacuation were informed about the situation immediately.

Speaking to OpIndia, the RSS volunteer said, “When I came to know about the situation, I immediately informed the ministry and teams working on the ground to coordinate the evacuation. Within minutes I got the reply from the ministry asking me for more details that I provided. Ministry also informed all four teams under the union ministers to stay on alert so that the students could be evacuated at the earliest.”

He added by the time he collected the required information and forwarded it to the ministry, teams of all four ministers coordinating the evacuation had already contacted him multiple times to get the information. “All this happened within minutes, and I forwarded the details to Gen (Retired) VK Singh as the students were in Pisochyn, and he was managing the evacuation from that region.”

‘Within two hours, the students had food and water

The first priority of the Government officials was to provide food and water for the students. He said, “The students were out of food. They were exhausted and scared. Within two hours of my first message, the food and water had reached the students. Keep in mind that it was an active war zone, and despite the adversities, the officials were in full action to ensure the safety of the students.”

At 1 AM on March 5, the Indian Embassy in Ukraine had also published a post informing about the food and water being delivered to the students. Though the students had some food left with them, the majority of the students were vegetarian, and they only had left non-veg options with them. Once the Embassy delivered the food items, the next step was to get them out of the active war zone.

In less than an hour, three buses were dispatched to get the students out of Pisochyn. The Embassy wrote, “Reaching out to our 298 students in Pisochyn. Buses are en route and expected to arrive soon. Please follow all safety instructions and precautions.”

By 6 AM, the buses had reached the location, and the evacuation process had started. A total of five buses were arranged for the students.

At 7:57 AM, all 298 students were out of Ukraine. The Embassy said, “Pisochyn has been evacuated of all Indian citizens. The mission will continue to remain in touch with them throughout their journey. Their safety has always been our priority.”

Operation Ganga

The government of India has initiated Operation Ganga to evacuate all Indian nationals, including the students from war-torn Ukraine. Over 13,000 Indians have already been brought back to India. Four Union Ministers are in neighbouring countries coordinating the evacuation. The MEA said over 21,000 people had left Ukraine so far, and the remaining Indians who are safe in the neighbouring countries will be brought back to India within a couple of days. On average, 3,000 Indians are reaching India via special flights arranged by the Indian government. The Indian Air Force is also providing assistance in the evacuation process.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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