Many students from Bengal, studying in professional colleges in Ukraine are stuck in the war-hit country and have sought the assistance of the central and state governments for their safe return. The total number of students from the state studying in higher education institutes in the east European country is, however, not yet known and is being assessed, a state government official said. Arkoprobho Baidya and Brijesh Ghosh, from Raidighi and Barasat in South 24 Parganas and North 24 Parganas districts respectively, have taken shelter in the basement of Kyiv Medical College, where they are first year students.
The two, along with other students from the state and elsewhere in India, said they were asked to move in there on Thursday when sounds of bombing began to be heard intermittently in nearby areas. "We are very worried. We have been asked to stay here. We were told by the Indian embassy that they were trying to ensure our safe passage. We go out when there is a lull to buy essentials, for which we have to pay very high rates," they said. Both are in contact with their families as the internet connection is working in their place. Dipak Sarkar and Bibhas Haldar, two computer science students of an engineering institute at Kharkiv town in northeast Ukraine said as shelling increased they along with more than 100 other Indian students were shifted to the Indian embassy and housed in an underground bunker. "Our plea to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is please facilitate our early evacuation and return to our country," the two students who hail from Kalna in Purba Bardhaman district said.
The embassy has not given any update about the possible day of their safe passage, the two said. Twins Rumki and Jhumki Bandopadhyay from Durgapur, freshmen at a medical college are stranded in Kharkiv for the past two days. Images sent by them have upset their family members back home. "We only want our daughters to return. They had gone there only in December and were settling well. But things turned bad since Thursday," their mother said fighting to hold back her tears. Arkoprobho's father Palash Baidya said he and wife could not sleep at night due to anxiety. They have sought financial help from the central and state governments for the safe return of their only child and requested for all initiatives to facilitate it. Bidya said he took great pains to get his soon admitted in Ukraine Medical College with his modest income.
Puspak Sarnakar of Sonarpur, a fifth year student of Ternopil State Medical University in Ukraine, said though he had booked an air ticket for February 26, it will be cancelled in all probability. Ukraine has closed its airspace to civilian flights after Russia began military action in the country. It cited a high risk to flight safety due to the use of weapons and military equipment. "The border with Poland and other east European countries is 500-600 km from this place (Ternopil). The transport system has virtually collapsed and the few passenger vehicles plying on the road are demanding very high fares, which is beyond the students' financial means," Puspak said. Russia mounted air strikes on Ukraine, its neighbour, on February 24 causing human casualties and damage to properties. West Bengal government announced the opening of a control room which will function for 12 hours every day to help the stranded students and their families.