Indian nationals, evacuated from crisis-hit Ukraine, upon their arrival at the airport in Mumbai, Saturday, Feb 26, 2022. (PTI)
Hyderabad: Medicos from Telangana state studying at the Zaporozhye State Medical University in Ukraine, which has 1,697 Indian students, said the bomb alert sirens sent a chill down their spine. Describing the scene outside their bunkers and hostels, they spoke of how their families get restless with each missed call. The lights go out at 9 pm with a lights out. Even gadgets with their bright screens are not allowed.
Speaking to Deccan Chronicle, Abhilash Reddy, a fifth year medico from Wanaparthy district, said that though Zaporozhye is not under attack, they live in fear regardless as they watch aircraft zoom past. "So far, there has not been any no movement of the military and no attacks," he said.
"The city goes black and nothing remains open after 9 pm. They informed us that during emergencies, they will sound the siren, where the a lengthy one is for alerting people to expect anything and a short one means high alert when we have to move to bomb shelters," Abhilash Reddy said.
On Friday, around 8 pm, the siren to rush to shelter was sounded, and everyone rushed to the bomb shelters. "We remained there for three hours," said Reddy, who went to Ukraine in 2017.
Dr Raj of Neo Consultancy, who helped these students get there, said he was in touch with the Indian Embassy in Ukraine and that they are drafting a safe route for evacuating the students. "Every year about 8,000 plus Indian students go to Ukraine. It was 10,000 earlier before Covid and about 80 per cent students are studying medicine," he said.
Most of the students are near the borders and some are facing problems with basic requirements like food, water and shelter. "The Indian government has made arrangements and said that any student or citizen of India should go to the nearest border like Hungary, Romania or Slovakia and to fly out the airports there. But since even going there is a big issue, they said that they would be arranging buses," Dr. Raj said, adding that people can put up an Indian flag to go near the borders and that it is considered as a pass.
Speaking about the problems faced by Indian students, Jyotsna, 25, from Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, said that while the locals can withdraw huge amounts from ATMs, their withdrawals were restricted "If I miss a call, my parents go on a hysterical crying session. I tell them that we are safe but they think we are lying to them to spare the worry. As per food and ration, there is a supermarket nearby and we are managing to buy basic necessities from there for now," she said.