From bunkers and hostel basements, students call for quick evacuation from Ukraine

Pune: As the Russian invasion in Ukraine continued on the second day of Friday, some students from Pune were taken to bunkers where they are preparing to spend a few days.

Saurabh Isapure, an MBBS student from Pune and a student at Bucovina State Medical University (BSMU) located in the western Ukrainian city of Chernivtsi, said: “We returned to our university on Friday morning after a long trip yesterday, as the flights were cancelled. Since morning, all the students have been staying in the basement of the hostel for fear of war, and now they have started the evacuation process. There are a large number of Indian students here in the city of Chernivtsi, so we were taken in groups of 250 students. Each group has 160 girls and 90 boys, through luxury buses we are now taken to Romania. And from there flights will be arranged for us as advised by Indian Embassy.

Dnyanesh Ghadhve from Pune, who flew to Ukraine last year to take an MBBS course, said he never imagined he would have to stay in a bunker.

Ghadhve, 19, is one of more than 1,000 Indian students stranded in Zaporizhzhia, southeastern Ukraine, amid the Russian invasion. All of the students were taken to a bunker earlier today.

“Today we were taken to a bunker as part of a mock exercise. Now we are back at the hostel,” he said. He also heard reports that there are there had been an explosion at a nearby military base, Ghadhve added.When asked if they had been given instructions on how to leave the country, he said they had been told they would be taken to Romania by bus and from there they could be flown back to India.

“ATMs in the city are running out of money. People are buying essential supplies in bulk, so there are also shortages at grocery stores,” he said.

The Pune district administration has set up a control room and set up helplines for those stranded in the war zone. Within 24 hours, details of 77 students who were to be evacuated were collected by district authorities and turned over to the Union government.

Sakshi Satish Pawar, a first-year MBBS student in Pune and a student at Zaporizhzhia State Medical University located in southeastern Ukraine, said: “There is a huge impact on students’ studies and each of us is afraid and wants to return to our country of origin. All of our booked flights have been canceled as airports are closed, none of our ATM and Forex cards are working. There are long queues in front of the ATMs, but there is no money. Yesterday we had gone to supermarkets and malls and bought as many groceries as we could. But today the stocks are exhausted, we have no choice but to wait for the evacuation process to take place.

Maruti Dabhade, a Pune resident whose daughter Monika is suing MBBS in Odessa, southern Ukraine, said she and other students had already been moved to a bunker for security reasons.

” I talked to him. She said they were sitting in a bunker. They were promised that they would soon be taken to a safer place,” he said. Before moving into the bunker, his daughter had cooked chapattis and potato “bhaaji” in large quantities and she now survives on it, he added.

Hanumant Khaire, another Pune resident whose daughter Siddhi is a fourth-year MBBS student in Odessa, said she and others were safe at the moment. “But the Union government should speed up the return process,” he said. His daughter had booked a plane ticket out of the country for March 1, but flight operations through Ukraine are now suspended, he said.

“We have forwarded the list of stranded students to the Maharashtra government,” an official from the district’s disaster management unit said. The Pune administration on Thursday set up a control room for people stranded in Ukraine. At least 24 students from the neighboring district of Ahmednagar are stranded in Ukraine, the head of a private consulting firm has said.

“We are constantly in contact with all the students. They told us they were safe wherever they were,” said Mahendra Zaware Patil, CEO of Doctor EduCon, an overseas education consultancy through which these students traveled to Ukraine to sue MBBS. .

There are around 1,200 people from Maharashtra like Saurabh currently in Ukraine and are stuck amid tensions between Ukraine and Russia. Early Thursday, Russia invaded Ukraine, sparking anxiety among family members of Indian citizens living or studying in the troubled European country.

Linda G. Ibarra