In the wake of the Russian offensive against Ukraine, Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan said on Thursday that India is making alternative arrangements for the safe evacuation of Indians stranded in the Eastern European nation as its airspace was closed. Amid concerns expressed by the near and dear ones of the people stranded in Ukraine, Muraleedharan said the Central government will ensure the safety of over 18,000 Indians including students stranded there and asked them to follow the instructions of the Indian Embassy in Kyiv.
"No need to panic...The Central Government is with you...An alternative plan is being prepared to repatriate Indian nationals stranded in Ukraine. We are looking for other ways as the airspace of that country has been closed," the Minister told reporters here. He said the details of the mission will be made available soon. Earlier in the day, an Air India plane that took off for Kyiv in Ukraine on Thursday morning to bring back Indians from the eastern European nation returned to Delhi due to the closure of Ukrainian airspace amid the Russian military offensive.
The Minister's statement also came amid opposition criticism against the Central government for not making arrangements in time to bring the Indians in Ukraine back and accused it of "turning away its face" on its nationals in this difficult time. Attacking the government for not acting despite repeated warnings, the Congress asked why it had not made arrangements in time to bring 20,000 Indians in Ukraine back home safely. Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said, "turning away its face in every difficult situation...And remaining silent has become a habit of the Modi government. Our 20,000 Indian youth in Ukraine are forced to grapple with fear, apprehension and life-threatening situations." "Why were arrangements not made in time to bring them safely? Is this the 'self-reliant' mission," Surjewala tweeted. Concerned about the safety of thousands of Malayalis, especially students, trapped in Ukraine amidst the Russian military offensive against that country, the state of Kerala has also urged the Centre to protect them and make necessary arrangements for their return.