Jaipur: Amid chaos and confusion, 21-year-old medical student Mehul Rathore and his elder sister Meghna travelled in a bus for 200 kilometres from the Ukrainian city of Ternopil and walked for around 20 kilometres at night in freezing cold to reach the Ukraine-Poland border to seek safe shelter in Poland, but they have no option other than waiting in a long queue, that too in uncertainty.
This is the situation of a few hundred others who are somehow reaching the Shehyni-Medyka border, only to face chaos and get stranded as they are not being allowed to cross the border, which is witnessing huge gatherings of people wanting safe shelter.
At a distance of 630 kilometres from this border, Ayushi Vishnoi, her friends and many others are stuck in a hostel building in Kyiv, witnessing bombing, hearing frequent sirens and switching between the rooms and the underground bunkers, silently praying to god to keep them safe.
While the Poland border is comparatively safe from bombing, the situation in Kyiv is horrific with rocket strikes and bombing.
Like Mehul, Meghna and Ayushi, there are thousands of Indian students, including hundreds from Rajasthan, who are panic-stricken, worried and facing difficulties in evacuation.
“We are in the age group of 18-21 years. We came here just two months ago…. We are not prepared to face this…not at all. We are worried, our parents are worried, we want to go back home, anyhow,” Ayushi, who is from Jodhpur, told PTI over the phone.
On the verge of bursting out in tears, she said five explosions were heard on Friday night and a rocket struck very close to the hostel building.
“Many students have reached the Poland border, but there is no advisory for the students stuck in Kyiv. We want a safe passage to the border and the Indian embassy should arrange this. I have tried so many times but could not get through the helpline number provided by the embassy. I shared my details and explained the situation on a WhatsApp number. The message was seen, but there was no reply,” the student of the National Medical University in Kyiv said.
“We are getting regular updates from friends and others in WhatsApp groups. Our family members are trying their level best to coordinate with us and the authorities for ensuring our safe return.
“This is worse than the situation we faced during the initial days of the coronavirus pandemic. It is a bigger nightmare,” she added.
Mehul said amid uncertainty, they left Ternopil at 3 pm on Friday and managed to get a bus to the border, but due to a massive traffic jam, they had to walk for around 20 kilometres to reach near the border, where there were long queues.
“We were informed that Poland will allow us to enter, so we rushed. We paid fares that were seven to eight times higher. Some even paid 20 times higher fares to reach the border. Since there was a long traffic jam, we had to walk for 20 kilometres. Somehow we reached a place near the border at 3 am (local time) on Saturday. Since then, we have been standing in a queue. We are not being allowed to cross the border,” he said, adding that they are stranded at a distance of nearly three kilometres from the border.
Meanwhile, in Rajasthan, the family members of hundreds of students are contacting the Centre as well as the state government, requesting them to make arrangements for their children to return home. They are constantly monitoring the situation on television and the internet.
Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has directed officials to make all possible efforts to facilitate the students and their families.
He has announced that the airfare of the Rajasthani students coming back from Ukraine will be reimbursed.
“During the war situation between Ukraine and Russia, after the advisory of the Ministry of External Affairs, the ticket amount of Rajasthanis coming back to their homeland at their personal expenses will be reimbursed,” Gehlot said in a tweet.
He has also directed the officials to facilitate the Rajasthanis arriving from Ukraine in Delhi, Mumbai and at other airports.
Dheeraj Srivastava, Commissioner of the Rajasthan Foundation, said there are 600 to 800 students from the state who are stuck in Ukraine and the foundation has shared their details with the Ministry of External Affairs.
“Apart from Rajasthan, we are getting calls and requests from many people from several other states, seeking help for their relatives or students stuck in Ukraine. Apart from the central government authorities, we are in touch with migrant Rajasthanis in Poland, Hungary, Romania and other countries to facilitate evacuation,” he said.
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