New Delhi: Russian shelling has killed an Indian student in Ukraine this morning, the Indian Foreign Ministry has said, making him the first casualty among Indians in Ukraine. The student, from Karnataka’s Haveri, died when Russian soldiers reportedly blew up a government building today. The deceased is reported to be Naveen Shekhararappa Gyanagoudar, who was in his fourth year at Kharkiv Medical University.
“With profound sorrow we confirm that an Indian student lost his life in shelling in Kharkiv this morning. The Ministry is in touch with his family. We convey our deepest condolences to the family,” tweeted External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi.
Naveen was from Chalageri, in Haveri district of Karnataka, and was living in Kharkiv with five friends. His father Shekaragouda had made a video call to Naveen at around 11.30 am today, just about 30 minutes before the shelling. In a voice choked with grief, Shekaragouda said his son would call twice or thrice every day. Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai spoke to Naveen’s father, and termed the incident a big tragedy. He said all efforts are being made to bring Naveen’s mortal remains back to India.
In Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, videos showed extensive damage from the Russian military assault. One video showed the city’s largest government building blown up. The student who lost his life had gone out for food, said Pooja Praharaj, a student coordinator in Kharkiv, reports NDTV. Praharaj, a final-year medical student in Kharkiv, spoke to NDTV shortly after the student’s death.
Earlier today, the Indian Embassy had advised all Indian citizens, including students, to leave the Ukrainian capital Kyiv “urgently today, by trains or any other means available”.
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In his tweet, Bagchi also wrote, “Foreign Secretary is calling in Ambassadors of Russia and Ukraine to reiterate our demand for urgent safe passage for Indian nationals who are still in Kharkiv and cities in other conflict zones. Similar action is also being undertaken by our Ambassadors in Russia and Ukraine.”
Meanwhile, the seventh evacuation flight, carrying 182 Indian citizens from Ukraine, landed in Mumbai this morning as part of Operation Ganga. The special Air India Express flight landed at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport, read a government statement.
Union Minister for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Narayan Rane received the evacuees, most of them students, at the airport. The Minister said the government is committed to repatriating all Indians in Ukraine. He assured the students that their friends and colleagues in Ukraine will also be evacuated soon.
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Interacting with the media, the Union Minister said that having returned from the war-torn zone, the students were feeling nervous and worried, and that he assured them that they are now safe. He said that all assistance needed for them to reach home will be provided by the respective states to which they belong. Various state governments have set up help desks at Mumbai airport to help the students.
The Air India Express flight took off from Henri Coanda International Airport in the Romanian capital of Bucharest at 11.10 pm (IST) on Monday and reached Mumbai at 7.05 am today, after a brief stopover in Kuwait. Air India, Air India Express, IndiGo and SpiceJet have joined the Operation Ganga mission, operating multiple flights from Ukraine’s neighbouring countries to Delhi and Mumbai to bring Indians in Ukraine safely back home.
Agencies & Indiablooms News Service