Ukraine-Russia crisis: As students take refuge in bunkers, parents back home in Punjab have sleepless night - Hindustan Times
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Ukraine-Russia crisis: As students take refuge in bunkers, parents back home in Punjab have sleepless night

BySurjit Singh, Avtar Singh & Gagandeep Jassowal, Amritsar/ Sangrur/barnala/ Jalandhar
Feb 26, 2022 01:04 AM IST

Parents of Punjabi natives stuck in Ukraine. amid Russian military offensive, appeal to the Indian government to bring their children home.

As students stranded in Ukraine spent the night in bunkers, hoping to make it out alive amid Russian offensive, their families back home made desperate attempts to bring them back.

(From left) Mothers of Ambuj Soni, Saumy Hasija and Kaynaat Mahajan show their photographers as they appeal to the Centre for their speedy evacuation, in Amritsar of Punjab on Friday. (Sameer Sehgal/HT)
(From left) Mothers of Ambuj Soni, Saumy Hasija and Kaynaat Mahajan show their photographers as they appeal to the Centre for their speedy evacuation, in Amritsar of Punjab on Friday. (Sameer Sehgal/HT)

On Friday morning, four families from different localities in Amritsar got together to make an appeal to the Government of India to ensure evacuation of their children.

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Parents of Somya, a sixth-year MBBS student at Kharkiv National University, said, “My daughter has been stuck in a bunker near her flat since last night. Power had been disrupted. All students staying with her have a limited stock of food items. If they are not sent back to India, they should be taken to some safe place in Ukraine.”

Rekha Mahajan, whose daughter Kaynaat Mahajan is stuck in the country, said, “Till February 23, she was attending physical classes, and the students were being told that there is no need to worry. However, the situation changed overnight. She is in touch with us over the phone, but we are worried for her safety.”

“Last night, the university authorities could not take them to mess for dinner as an explosion had taken place nearby. So, they just ate biscuits and chips,” she added, urging PM Narendra Modi to help them at the earliest.

Notably, many students booked chartered flights which were scheduled to take off on February 25 and 26 but their plans were stalled due to attacks on Ukrainian airbase.

Meanwhile, Amritsar deputy commissioner Gurpreet Singh Khaira launched a helpline number 0183-2500598 for students and their parents. “The information about the students belonging to Amritsar district is being collected, so that it can be sent to the MEA for their evacuation,” said Khaira.

Nightmare for parents

Meanwhile, the parents of six MBBS students hailing from Sangrur, Barnala and Malerkotla districts had a sleepless night.

Dr Baljit Singh, senior medical officer (SMO) at Sangrur civil hospital, said his 24-year-old son Arshdeep Singh, who is in the last year of MBBS in Kharkiv city, has taken refuge at a metro station, doubling as a bunker, but students have been asked to move near Poland or Hungary borders.

“My son along with his friends took shelter in the metro station for safety amid missile strikes. Kharkiv is a large city near the Russian border, so it is very difficult for them to move towards Poland and Hungary borders. I am worried for Arshdeep and appeal to the government to bring him, and other students, home, as soon as possible,” said Dr Baljit Singh.

Two medical students, Kunwar Sharma and Harshit Bansal, both hailing from Tapa Town of Barnala, are also stuck in Kharkiv. Their family members are ‘under stress’ over reports of continued bombings.

“Four students from Tapa had gone to Ukraine to get education but two have returned and two are still stuck there. Though our children claimed they are safe in a bunker, news reports increase our anxiety. We want our children to be evacuated as soon as possible,” said Dr Dheeraj Sharma, father of Kunwar Sharma.

Malerkotla deputy commissioner Madhvi Kataria said three students from Malerkotla district are stuck in Ukraine and the administration assured parents that their children will be brought back safely.

Pleas for help pour in

Meanwhile, the desperate pleas for help from students stuck in Ukraine continued to pour in through the day. Raman Kumar from Kapurthala (name changed on request) stated, “Over 4,000 Indians are stuck in eastern Ukraine and can’t afford to travel towards the western Ukraine.”

“The Indian authorities must try to rescue us with Moscow’s help as it is very risky for us to travel towards the western side.”

As many as 25 persons have approached the Jalandhar administration with information on their family members stuck in Ukraine. Jalandhar deputy commissioner Ghanshyam Thori said that the district administration has issued a helpline number 0181-2224417 to compile information on Jalandhar students stuck in Ukraine.

In Hoshiarpur district, around six families approached the administration seeking help to rescue their kin in Ukraine, informed DC Apneet Riyait. In Kapurthala and Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar districts of Doaba region, one family each approached the administration. The district administrations have been directed to send their lists to the Punjab Government.

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