Nearly 800 Indians stranded in war-torn Ukraine were brought back in four flights operated by the Air Force, news agency PTI reported Thursday morning. Flights from Romanian capital Bucharest, Hungary capital Budapest, and the Polish city of Rzeszow landed at the Hindon Air Force base in Ghaziabad near Delhi. All four planes used were the C-17 military transport.
The first flight carried 200 people from Bucharest and landed at 1.30 am. It was received by junior defence minister Ajay Bhatt. The second carried 210 from Budapest and that was followed soon after by a third carrying 208 from Poland’s Rzescow. The fourth brought 180 people back from Budapest. The Air Force’s involvement in the evacuation process – requested by Prime Minister Narendra Modi – has helped increase daily evacuations.
“I request the government to bring back the students stuck in Kyiv and Kharkiv as the situation there is serious. I appreciate the efforts of our government to evacuate all Indians from Ukraine,” Ujjala Gupta, one of the evacuees, told news agency ANI.
Indians stuck in Ukraine – where a full-scale war has broken out after Russia’s invasion – has been hit by the eastern European country’s airspace being closed to civilian and passenger flights. Evacuations are being arranged by transporting Indians to neighbouring countries like Romania, Hungary, Moldova, and Poland via land routes, and then flying them home.
The evacuation process has been codenamed ‘Operation Ganga’, and is being co-ordinated in each country by a deputed union minister.
Hardeep Singh Puri is in Hungary, Jyotiraditya Scindia is in Romania, Kiren Rijiju is in Slovakia, and VK Singh is in Poland.
The prime minister yesterday told Hindustan Times the government would leave no stone unturned in evacuating all Indians still stuck in Ukraine.
Tragically, an Indian student died amid shelling in Kharkiv – Ukraine’s second-largest city and the site of fierce fighting as Russian forces try to capture it. Naveen Shekharappa from Karnataka was killed while trying to buy food.
A second student – from Punjab – died after suffering a stroke.
Russia has stepped up its offensive over the past few days. This morning news reports indicated they had captured the southern port city of Kherson – their first major success.
India on Wednesday urged all its nationals in Kharkiv to leave for safer areas immediately. This was after a similar announcement had been made for capital Kyiv, on which a massive Russian military convoy is approaching.
With input from ANI, PTI