Indian students stuck in Kharkiv shocked

Updated - March 01, 2022 10:03 pm IST

Published - March 01, 2022 09:58 pm IST - Bengaluru

Amit and Shrikanth still find it unbelievable that their close friend, Naveen S. Gyanagoudar, with whom they were planning ways to move out of the bunker in Kharkiv, is no more.

On Tuesday morning, Naveen was killed in a shelling by the Russian armed forces. He had stepped out of the bunker where he and his friends — all students of Kharkiv National Medical University — had hunkered down for the past six days.

“We have been living on chocolates and biscuits, as we ran out of food. Naveen stepped out to buy snacks from the supermarket that is just a few metres away from our bunker at about 6 a.m. He later contacted us asking us to transfer some money at 7.58 a.m. When he didn’t return, we called his number at 8.10 a.m. only to be told that he was no more. It was as if the ground beneath our feet had given away,” said a distraught Amit, a fifth year medical student, speaking to the media from the bunker.

Naveen is from Chalageri village in Ranebennur taluk of Haveri district. Amit, who is also from the same village, said Indian students who were hunkered down in bunkers across Kharkiv were waiting desperately to be evacuated. “We are in the active war zone. The Indian Government should first attempt to rescue thousands of Indian students from Kharkiv and Kyiv,” he said.

Naveen, he said, was studious and a bright student, who always helped juniors. “We were all planning on moving out of the bunker. Naveen was the one who wanted us to leave along with the juniors, who are young and do not know the local language,” he said.

A few localities away, in another bunker, seven students from Karnataka are also shocked after learning about Naveen’s death. Heena Fathima, who is from Mangaluru and is a second-year medical student of the same university, said the Indian embassy was asking students to go to either Poland or Hungary border. “Both are around 1,400 km away from Kharkiv. We have to take a train to get there. Under the present circumstances, it is too risky,” she said and added that the Russian border was closer. The Indian embassy should assist students from Kharkiv and Kyiv to reach the Russian border and evacuate them to India from there, she said.

Bhumika C.K. from Nagarbhavi in Bengaluru is trying to cheer her friends in the bunker. “The situation is critical. But we have to keep our hopes up. We are planning to leave the bunker and take a train to the Hungary border soon,” she said.

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