Indian Student Killed by Shelling in Kharkov, Says Foreign Ministry
© AP Photo / Evgeniy MaloletkaAn aerial view on the center of Kharkov, Ukraine's second-largest city, Saturday, Jan. 29, 2022
© AP Photo / Evgeniy Maloletka
India is trying to evacuate nearly 20,000 citizens who have been stuck in Ukraine during the present hostilities. The stranded Indians are being evacuated to Romania, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia, from where they are flown back to India. So far, nine flights carrying more than 1,000 Indians have arrived in New Delhi.
An Indian student has been killed by shelling in Ukraine's second-largest city Kharkov on Tuesday morning, the Indian foreign ministry said.
“The Foreign Secretary [Harsh Vardhan Shringla] is calling on Russian and Ukrainian ambassadors to convey India's demand that its nationals still in Kharkov and other conflict zones be granted safe conduct. Similar action is also being undertaken by our ambassadors in Russia and Ukraine,” India's foreign ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi also said.
The deceased student has been identified as Naveen Shekarappa Gyanagoudar, a native of the state of Karnataka, in India’s south.
Several reports in Indian media claim that Gyanagoudar was a fourth-year medical student at Kharkov National Medical University (KNMU). He had reportedly gone to buy food from a nearby store when he was hit by a shell.
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Sources from the Indian foreign ministry have said that they have been trying to evacuate Indian students from Kharkov, but their efforts have been obstructed by intense fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces.
“An Indian team has been positioned in the Russian city of Belgorod, close to the Ukrainian border. However, the conflict situation in and around Kharkov and nearby cities has been an obstacle,” an Indian official said.
Indian officials have revealed that about 9,000 Indian citizens, many of them students, have been “brought out” of Ukraine since Russia's President Vladimir Putin announced “special military operations” designed for the “denazification” and “demilitarisation” of Ukraine.
Fighting between Russian and Ukrainian began in earnest on 25 February, with Moscow consistently stating that its aim is to neutralise military and radar installations with minimum collateral damage.
Though Ukrainian authorities say they are continuing to hold major cities such as Kyiv and Kharkov, local authorities have admitted that they have been besieged by Russian forces.
The Russian defence ministry on 28 February advised civilians living in Kyiv to leave the city and head for the safer western regions, along the borders with Poland, Romania and Hungary.
On the same day, the Indian Embassy in Ukraine issued the same advice to Indians stuck in Kyiv - that they should make their way to the western parts of the country. It also urged students to proceed to the west of the country by whatever means available, preferably on train.
Russian forces are bearing down on Kharkov, which is on the border with Russia, after it was reported that attacks against parts of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s republics had come out of there.
The US, the European Union and other western allies such as Canada, Australia and Japan, have hit Russia with a coordinated set of economic sanctions targeting its central bank and political leadership in response to these military operations. The US and its NATO allies have also supplied Ukraine with nearly $1Bln in military equipment since the hostilities began last week.
However, Moscow has remained steadfast in its military and political objectives in the face of western sanctions. President Putin told his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron during a telephone call on Monday, 28 February, that a settlement would only be possible if Ukraine is designated as “neutral” and Moscow’s sovereignty over Crimea is recognised.
Putin also said that Russian forces were taking care to ensure that the military operations cause minimum collateral damage, as he blamed Ukrainian forces for employing “human shields” in a bid to mount a counter-offensive.