Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a top level meeting on Monday morning on the Ukraine crisis and Indian students who are stranded in the middle of Russia's invasion. Some Union Ministers are slated to go to Ukraine's neighbouring countries to coordinate the evacuation of students, government sources said.
The ministers likely to fly out for the task are Hardeep Puri, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Kiren Rijiju and VK Singh. Around 16,000 students are believed to be stuck in Ukraine, hiding in bunkers, bomb shelters or their hostel basements. Opposition parties, mainly the Congress, have been sharing videos of students' SOS and have attacked the government for not bringing back students sooner.
A few were able to fly out just before Russia launched its attack last Thursday and Ukraine shuts its airspace. Those still in the country have been trying to make their way to the border so they can take Air India evacuation flights arranged from neighbouring countries like Romania, Hungary, Slovak Republic and Poland. Many students have ventured out on foot, desperate to reach the border.
The Indian Embassy in Ukraine said on Twitter on Saturday that Indian citizens should not move to any of the border posts without coordinating with government officials, using helpline numbers.
The embassy had said it was difficult to help those who reached border checkpoints without informing them. The embassy said staying in western cities of Ukraine with access to water, food, accommodation and basic amenities was relatively safer and advisable compared to reaching border checkpoints without any plan. The first evacuation flight, AI1944, bringing back 219 people from Bucharest to Mumbai, landed on Saturday.
The second evacuation flight, with 250 on board, landed in Delhi around 2.45 am on Sunday. Comments Indians who reached the Romania and Hungary borders have been taken to Bucharest and Budapest by road, with help from government officials, so that they could be evacuated in these Air India flights. So far 5 AI flights have brought back a total of 1200 plus students from the conflict regions. In the recent developments, Indigo airlines have also volunteered to bring back Indian citizens under operation Ganga.