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'No Food, Water, Electricity For Three Days': Rajasthan Students' Plight In Ukraine 

Around 1,008 students from Rajasthan are stuck in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Sumy and other Ukrainian cities while 207 of these have returned.

Kevin Francis (left) and Abhijit Singh Negi (right) both studying Medicine in Ukraine, sit in a refu
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While waiting for evacuation, for Pankaj and his friends stuck inside the university Sumy, situated in the east of Ukraine, it is the third night without food and electricity.

"All our ration is over. There is no drinking water and food left for us. We were surviving on biscuits and those have also got over. We can't step out of the college and all we can hear the sounds of bombs", Pankaj, a first-year MBBS student at Sumy state university which is situated very close to the Russian border, told OUtlook over a voice call.

"Because of the airstrikes, the electricity has been cut off. We are living in the dark. And most of the time we are hiding inside the basement of our hostel. The last eight nights have been sleepless. All we want is to get back to our homes. We are trying our best to reach out to Indian Embassy but they have told us to stay back as it is unsafe to step out at the moment", added Pankaj, who hails from the Sikar district of Rajasthan. In Pankaj's University alone there are around 700 Indian students stranded who are desperately wanting to return at any cost.

Sumy is located closer to the Russian border on the eastern side of Ukraine and so it is very difficult for students to step out to catch a train or travel by road. They have been asked by Ukrainian officials to avoid going by road because of possible landmines. 

Back home, Pankaj's family has tried everything to get their son back to India. On Wednesday Rajasthan Industry Minister Shakuntla Rawat had revealed in the ongoing assembly session that around 1,008 students from the state are stuck in Ukraine. Students have been found to be stuck in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Sumy and other Ukrainian cities while as of Wednesday morning, 207 of these had returned.

In a reply to the motion of adjournment moved by BJP MLA Pushpendra Singh, Rawat said that the situation has become very serious after the Russian attack on Ukraine. "Flights were discontinued from Ukraine on February 24 after which the crisis started deepening. Around 207 Rajasthan students have so far returned to India", Rawat told the house.

Two days ago, Tina Kumari, a first-year MBBS student in Ukraine who returned to Jaipur from war-torn Ukraine,  told reporters at the airport, "We have had a narrow escape. Amidst bad behaviour by Ukrainian soldiers firing tear gas shells and bullets in the air, the gate opened for 10 minutes and just three students could enter. Unfortunately, no support from the Indian embassy in Ukraine or at the border was provided to us."

According to Dhiraj Srivastave, the Commissioner of Rajasthan Foundation, the nodal officer for coordinating with the central government, regarding the evacuation of Indian students said, "We are in touch with students. in Kharkiv as per the advisory, students have left. However, in Sumy, students are still stranded and we are doing our best to safely evacuate them."

India on Tuesday said that an estimated 20,000 Indians were in Ukraine on February 15 and approximately 12,000 have since left the country, adding that all Indian nationals had left Kyiv. However, many Indian students are still in conflict zones in Kharkiv and Sumy, while some others have either reached the western borders of Ukraine or are heading towards the western parts of the country, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla added.

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