Risking our lives, Operation Ganga will fail if we’re hurt: Students in Ukraine’s Sumy

A huge group of students who are among the over 800 stuck at Sumy State University in Sumy, a city in north-eastern Ukraine, on Saturday morning said they will be proceeding towards the Russian border on foot by risking their lives as they are no longer willing to wait for the Indian government to safely escort them.

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In a video address, a girl standing along with the other students is seen saying, “We are students of Sumy State University. It is the tenth day of war. Today we got news that Russia has announced ceasefire to open humanitarian corridors for two cities. One of them is Mariupol which is 600 km away from Sumy. Since morning we are constantly listening to bombarding, shelling and street fights. We are afraid, we have waited a lot and we cannot wait anymore. We are risking our life, we are moving towards the border. If anything happens to us all the responsibility will be for government and Indian embassy. If anything happens to any one of us, then Mission Ganga will be a biggest failure.”

Another female student said in the video, “This is the last video from the Sumi State University students and we are just risking our lives and we are going towards the border opened by Russia. This is our last request and last video. Just pray for us. We are moving at own risk,” while another student shouted, “We need our government right now.” The students then chanted ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’.

Over 800 medical students stuck in their college hostels in Sumy woke up to bombings on Saturday morning. Their relatives are worried as the students, in the absence of water supply, have been stepping out to collect ice for basic needs, which makes them vulnerable to attacks.

Dr Priyanka Aher, sister of medical student Mayuri Aher who is stuck in Sumy, told The Indian Express earlier on Saturday, “I called my sister this morning. It was 6 am in Ukraine when the bombings started. I could hear the explosions. Already there is no water supply for over 24 hours now and the bombings are scaring them even more. The students are forced to step out to collect ice which they boil and use for basic purposes. The Indian government keeps assuring that they will be evacuated soon, but the students are losing hope as there is no clarity when evacuation will take place.”

Meanwhile, India on Saturday said it has “strongly pressed” the Russian and Ukrainian governments through multiple channels for an immediate ceasefire to create a safe passage for the Indian students stuck in the eastern Ukrainian city of Sumy.

Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said the students have been advised to take safety precautions such as staying inside shelters and to avoid taking unnecessary risks and that the government is “deeply concerned about them”.

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