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Prime Minister Narendra Modi “spoke to the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, Romania, the Slovak Republic and Poland regarding the safety and convenience of Indian citizens from Ukraine” and more flights are being undertaken, including by the Indian Air Force (IAF). They were sent to evacuate them from the war-torn country, the central government told the Kerala High Court on Wednesday.
The Center filed an affidavit in response to a petition by the Kerala High Court Advocates Association and parents of a second year medical student at VN Karzin National University in Kharkiv, directing the government to make all sincere efforts to facilitate the repatriation of the students. was demanded to be given. Stranded in Ukraine from Kerala.
The affidavit submitted by Assistant Solicitor General S Manu said that of the estimated 20,000 Indian nationals in Ukraine, 30 per cent have already crossed Ukrainian borders and another 30 per cent have reached India. “Out of an estimated 20,000 Indian citizens in Ukraine, 60% (30% arrived in India and 30% in neighboring countries) have already crossed Ukrainian borders and are safe. The government is also taking necessary measures to evacuate the remaining 40% Indian nationals by using all its means,” it said.
The Center also said that “till March 1, 15 evacuation flights have already been operated to evacuate stranded Indians as part of Operation Ganga” and 26 flights are planned from March 1 to 3 which Will evacuate around 5500 more Indian nationals”.
“The situation in Kharkiv is unstable and there is heavy shelling” and therefore “it is advisable for our students to stay wherever they are for their physical safety”.
Apart from passenger flights, Air Force aircraft are also being sent to these countries, with two flights to Romania and one each to Poland and Hungary for evacuation on March 2, the Center said. More IAF flights will also be sent in the coming days.
“As soon as the situation improves, students in Kharkiv will be suitably evacuated on priority basis. Our mission in Kyiv is to keep in touch with most of the students and try to make provision where possible. The mission has also requested the Ukrainian authorities to ensure their safety and security. The Ministry of External Affairs has also spoken with the Ukrainian Embassy in New Delhi regarding the need to ensure the safety of Indian nationals in Ukraine.
Union External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has also spoken to the foreign ministers of Russia, Ukraine, Romania, Poland, Hungary, Slovak Republic and Moldova in this regard.
Salah, Operation Ganga
Regarding the steps to bring back Indian nationals, the affidavit said, “Initially advisories were issued by the Indian Embassy on February 15 and 20, 2022, asking Indians to leave Kyiv temporarily. “
“On 28 February, in view of the increasing insecurity in the capital Kyiv, out of the remaining 1400-1500 Indian nationals, about 1200-1300 nationals were facilitated to leave the capital by trains and other means available by the Indian Embassy in Kyiv. Safe destination in the western parts of Ukraine. On 1 March, another advisory was issued by the Indian Embassy in Kiev to the remaining Indian nationals to leave Kyiv immediately and as a result, almost all Indian nationals left Kyiv.
In addition, the Indian Embassy in Warsaw also issued 6 advisories to guide Indian citizens to cross the border from Ukraine to Poland, it said.
The government said that around 20,000 Indian nationals were in Ukraine, most of them studying in medicine, and that “during February 16 to 23, about 4,000 Indian nationals returned to India using commercial flights”, the advisory issued by the embassies. after.
The affidavit said that under Operation Ganga, more than 2,000 Indian nationals have been brought back to India from Ukraine’s neighboring countries Romania and Hungary. About 6,000 Indian nationals have already crossed the borders of Ukraine and are currently in the neighboring countries of Romania, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and Moldova.
Till these Indian citizens reach India under Operation Ganga, the government is taking care of them at its own cost. An estimated 7,000 to 8,000 Indian nationals live in Ukraine, mainly in the east of the country, with the government trying to bring them back “as soon as possible”.
The petitioners argued that the students have to bear the cost and risk of traveling in a war zone. He also said that Indians are facing widespread discrimination and torture by the Ukrainian Army and the Border Patrol and have to wait in extreme cold weather and “one of the main reasons is the lack of presence of Indian Embassy representatives”. is because of”.
Martin Mpofu, center, a student from Zimbabwe, in weak health, is helped by his brother Manedi, right, and Hatim Redouani, from Morocco, as they cross from Ukraine to Medyka, Poland February 28, 2022. (Mauricio Lima / New York time)
Responding to the alleged chaotic situation and inconvenience caused to Indians at the borders, the central government said that more than half a million Ukrainians and other foreign migrants fled the conflict zones westwards to the border with neighboring countries.
“This extraordinary exodus of millions of closed land borders stands out. Hence many Indians were also stranded and initially inconvenienced at the land borders, especially the land border with Poland, where lakhs of people started gathering from February 25,” it said. “The reports of difficulties at the borders faced by some of our students, including insensitivity by the border guards, can be seen in the context of the war zone situation, and have also been attributed to excessive numbers, system breakdowns and extreme weather conditions. can go. ,
Foreign Ministry teams on the borders
Anticipating evacuation through neighboring countries to the west of Ukraine, foreign ministry teams, some led by ambassadors, were stationed on the Polish, Romanian and Hungarian sides of land borders with Poland, Romania, Hungary, the Slovak Republic and Moldova. “To receive and actively organize further evacuations from their respective neighboring countries” with effect from February 25.
The government said that “the Embassy in Kyiv and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are actively guiding and taking all necessary steps to evacuate Indian nationals from Ukraine”.
The affidavit states that “Indian embassies in neighboring countries such as Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland are receiving Indian evacuees, providing food, water and shelter as far as possible, and taking our citizens home. Indians are also arranging rescue flights for It added that Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF) money is being used for the purpose of evacuation and the evacuees are not paying flight charges for their repatriation to India.
The official affidavit said, “The Indian Embassy in Kyiv, after taking up the matter with the local authorities, arranged for accommodation in trains for Indian nationals. This helped move most Indian nationals out of Kyiv to Ukraine’s relatively safe western borders, from where they would cross the border with neighboring countries and then be brought back to India by Operation Ganga flights.
Ministry officials have already been deployed at border posts in Romania, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and Moldova bordering Ukraine. “These officers are working in close cooperation with the border authorities of Ukraine and neighboring countries in facilitating the crossing of Indian nationals”.
The Central Government urged the court to dismiss the writ petition filed by the Kerala High Court Association.
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