India on Friday sought a ceasefire by Russian and Ukrainian forces to evacuate its citizens from the conflict zones of Kharkiv and Sumy in eastern Ukraine and said it had not yet seen any move to implement the two sides’ decision to establish safe corridors. civilians out.
About 300 Indians are stranded in Kharkiv and 700 in Sumy, while some of the more than 900 citizens of Pesochen are being taken out on five buses, Arindam Bagchi, spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
In a media briefing, he said that more than 20,000 Indians have left Ukraine since India issued initial warnings in mid-February before the conflict began, and that more than 10,300 citizens have been repatriated on 48 flights under the evacuation mission ‘Operation Ganga’ so far.
Bagshi said Indian student Hargot Singh, who was shot in Kyiv, is fine and is undergoing treatment at the hospital, adding that the Indian government will pay for his medical treatment.
He said India is mainly focusing on evacuating its citizens from conflict areas in eastern Ukraine including from Kharkiv and Sumy, adding that the total number of Indians stranded in Ukraine could be around 2,000 to 3,000.
Asked about Russian media reports that five Indian students were injured in a conflict zone on Thursday and he did not know the whereabouts of 11 others, Bhaji said India did not have any such information.
In response to a question about the statements of Russian President Vladimir Putin about the taking of some Indians as hostages by the Ukrainian forces, the spokesperson for the Middle East Airlines again rejected the claim saying that India does not have any such information or reports.
Also on Thursday, Mr. Bagshi dismissed allegations by both Russia and Ukraine that Indian students are being held hostage in Kharkiv.
He said at the briefing that India has evacuated a Bangladeshi national as part of its mission to bring back stranded Indians.
Baghi said India was in contact with all concerned parties regarding the evacuation of Indians and had sought a “local ceasefire” in conflict areas to get them out of areas experiencing fighting and violence.
The spokesperson also said that India had seen no action after it emerged that Russia and Ukraine had agreed on Thursday on the need to establish humanitarian corridors to help civilians leave conflict zones.
“We haven’t seen anything else in terms of doing the same thing on the ground,” he said. “We’re watching that closely and with interest.”
“If that happens, it will definitely help our operation. We have demanded a cessation of hostilities on both sides. Local ceasefires or whatever works to get our people out of the conflict zones,” Mr. Baji said.
Asked about Russian reports that Moscow arranged 130 buses to evacuate Indians from cities in eastern Ukraine, Bagchi said that the buses are about 50-60 kilometers from where the students are.
“They are frankly too far away. We don’t see a safe and secure way to reach them. I appeal to the parties involved and urge them to at least put a local ceasefire so the students can get to the buses,” he said.
“We don’t want students to cross a place where they are in danger. Anything can happen in a war zone, so we always want a safe route for our students. Both sides have told us publicly that there should be a ceasefire until we get our students out.”
According to media reports from Moscow, the Russian authorities arranged 130 buses to transport the stranded Indians from Kharkiv and Sumy to the Russian city of Belgorod.
Mr. Baji suggested that the Russian side come with the buses and take the students.
On whether an IL-76 transport aircraft is put on standby for the evacuation of Indians from the Russian side, Bagshi, without giving a specific answer, said, “Everything is ready.” “The main problem is how do we get the students from their place to the distant buses,” he said.
Bagchi said about 20,000 Indians have left Ukraine’s borders since India issued its first travel advisory in mid-February. He pointed out that now it appeared that the total number of Indians in Ukraine was more than 20 thousand citizens registered at the embassy in Kyiv.
He said that 15 flights landed in India as part of the evacuation mission in the past 24 hours, which resulted in the return of more than 3,000 citizens.
The spokesman said that 16 flights are scheduled for the next 24 hours.
He added that more than 10,300 Indians have returned in 48 flights as part of the evacuation mission “Operation Ganga” so far.
The MEA spokesperson said India would continue the operation until the last citizen was removed from Ukraine.