(March 3, 2022) Even as the tragic death of Indian student Naveen Shekharappa in shelling as he went seeking food shocked the student community, there are stories of hope, and resilience emerging too. Far off on the Ukrainian borders, humanity shines through. Kind hearts who rose above their needs to help terrified others fleeing an illegal war that Russia has wreaked on Ukraine. The past 72 hours have been the most harrowing for Rohit Chauhan. He walked over 12 km, luggage in tow, in sub-zero temperature to reach the Romanian border. Back breaking, he stood in a long queue for 15 hours, braving biting cold, with nought to eat or drink. Chaos, hostile weather and no shelter, the sleep-deprived student even helped several women move faster in the queue that ended up delaying his own exit. He was the last in his group of 57 Indian students to have crossed into Romania on March 1.
“The local airport had been bombed. It was either staying in Ivano, or moving to the border.”
– Rohit Chauhan, MBBS student who fled Ukraine safely to Romania
“I just crossed the border into Romania. It was hell for the past three days. Glad we made it,” says Rohit, a first year MBBS student at Ivano-Frankivsk National Medical University, in a shaken voice, when Global Indian caught up with him moments after he crossed the border after a three-day ordeal.
In the past 48 hours, hundreds of Indians like Rohit fled Ukraine in the most challenging circumstances as Russian forces stepped up attacks.
When the clouds of war were engulfing Ukraine, unaware, Rohit Chauhan was still deep into attending physical class, exchanging notes, etc. When the Russian forces bombed the local airport to smithereens, the gravity of the situation dawned on the hundreds of foreign students at the university in Ivano city (northwest), 600 km away from Kyiv.
“I am Bishal Saha pursuing medical in #Ukraine. I am..stranded with four of my friends in a metro station to save ourselves from shelling..Unable to contact the Indian embassy…kindly tweet and spread”
— Adarsh Patel (@04adarshpatel) February 24, 2022
Without wasting time, the group were lucky to book a bus. All 57 students huddled in a packed bus, carrying frugal belongings, and set off on a four-hour journey to the border. “I paid about 1,030 hryvnia (Rs 2,600) on bus fare. It was a difficult choice but we made it,” says a thankful Rohit (from Telangana).
The scenario was surreal, unsettling – as air sirens and warplanes zipped above. To be caught in a deadly war was the last thing they had expected.
Rumours of the impending war had been rife for sometime, so his roommates stocked on groceries for a month. “University authorities told us to remain indoors,” he recounts. As the Russian forces gained ground pounding different towns and cities, with heroic resistance from the Ukraine army and heavily armed civilians, they sat contemplating their exit. “The local airport had been bombed. It was either staying in Ivano, or moving to the border,” he said. There were also reports of pitched battles being fought on the streets between the invading forces and Ukraine’s army.
I am a stranded Indian student in Kiev urgently request Indian govt and Indian embassy in Kiev to help us to travel from Kiev to borders like Poland or Hungary to evacuate from Ukraine..m just 17 year old this is my first time abroad please help me very scared I am
— Ramanan Uma (@RamananUma2) February 25, 2022
While most had heard of the tough conditions at the border, the stark reality was alarming. Thankful, and getting a bed to sleep in after three days, Rohit now awaits evacuation, the details of flights, much needed, are still sketchy.
Parekh Disha travelled from Kyiv to Lviv, still in shock. The MBBS student at Bogomolets National Medical University was among a group of 40 Indians who left Kyiv a couple of days ago, and reached Lviv in the early hours of March 1. “The train was overcrowded, we were standing at the door throughout the 12-hour journey,” recalls Disha, from Vadodara, Gujarat. “We did not pay anything for the train journey but we were scared. It was one hell of a journey,” she recounted.
Often times, human spirt appears in the toughest of moments. As food was scarce, some kindhearted Ukrainians stepped in. “They gave us free food – non-vegetarian. Many vegetarians were left hungry but we were so thankful,” smiles Disha, who safely reached Poland after a two-hour bus trip.
Check-points, stringent checks, an air of suspicion, she adds, “We were lucky our bus driver dropped us till the border. We met many who were forced to walk 15 to 20 km.” In Poland, food and shelter was provided for the sea of humanity fleeing war torn Ukraine. “I’m hoping I will be on the flight back to India soon,” a relieved Disha says.
Student Amulya Chede (from Mahabubabad, Telangana), was in a group of 30 who crossed over to Hungary on March 1. “After a bomb blast in Kyiv five days ago, the university instructed us to get basic necessities and stay put at the hostel. The next day, we hurried to Vinnytsia railway station, boarded a train to Chop railway station. We had to spend an entire night out in the freezing night,” recalls the 20-year-old MBBS Indian student at Vinnytsia National Pirogov Medical University, staying at hostel No 5.
Her group then drove to Zahony, 5 km away, and crossed into Hungary. “I am in Budapest now, awaiting a flight home,” informed Amulya, who had travelled to Ukraine in December 2021.
- Poland: +48 225 400 000, +48 795 850 877 Email id: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Romania: +40 732 124 309, +40 771 632 567, +40 745 161 631, +40 741 528 123
- Email id: email@example.com
- Hungary: +36 308 517 373, +36 132 57742, +36 132 57743, Whatsapp: +36 308 517 373
- Slovak Republic: +421 252 631 377, +421 252 962 916, +421 951 697 560
- Email id: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Indian Embassy at Kyiv: +380 997300428, +380 997300483