Indian student dies as Russia shells university city

An Indian student was killed on Tuesday 1 March in shelling in Kharkiv city in Ukraine, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs confirmed, while thousands of Indian and other foreign students who had been studying in Ukraine fled across the border in scenes of chaos, desperation and fear.

“With profound sorrow we confirm that an Indian student lost his life in shelling in Kharkiv this morning. The ministry is in touch with his family,” said a tweet by Arindam Bagchi, spokesman for the Ministry of External Affairs.

The student has been named as Naveen Shekharappa Gyanagoudar (21) from India’s Karnataka state.

According to reports from other students in Kharkiv, he lost his life when he stepped outside the metro station to buy food for himself and other Indian students taking shelter there. Another 200 students were holed up in a bunker under a university residence in the city.

Students in Kharkiv – which has 38 higher education institutions with 300,000 students including 12,000 international students – said they were told to remain where they were by Indian embassy officials.

Naveen was a fourth-year medical student and his father said he had had to send him to Ukraine because despite scoring 97% in his pre-university course, he could not secure a medical seat in the state, The Hindu reported.

“It became inevitable for us to send him to Ukraine for studies. But we lost him,” his distraught father said.

The killing of an Indian student has sent shockwaves among relatives of Indian students still trapped in Ukraine. Anxious parents are now eagerly waiting for the return of their children.

Facing freezing temperatures and hunger, and scared and exhausted, every student in Ukraine has a story to tell. Others were still holed up in bunkers in cities under attack or trying to make their way to Ukraine’s borders.

ndia’s Embassy in Kyiv issued on 2 March issued an urgent advisory to Indian nationals in capital letter to “leave Kharkiv immediately repeat immediately in the light of the deteriorating situaton.”

Citizens were advised to proceed to Pesochin, Babaye, in the western suburbs of the city and Bezlyudovka, 13 Km south of Kharkiv “as soon as possible for their safety. Under all circumstances they should reach these settlements by 1800 hrs (Ukrainian time) today.”

Social media reports early on 2 March showed university buildings of Kharkiv National Agrarian University, Kharkiv National University of Economics, VN Karazin Kharkiv National Universities under attack with buildings on fire.

India has around 18,000 students in Ukraine – 25% of all foreign students in the country.

The Indian government has brought home over 4,000 of its citizens, most of them students, but the numbers in Ukraine are still high. The Indian embassy in Kyiv issued a fresh advisory on 1 March: “All Indian nationals including students are advised to leave Kyiv urgently today. Preferably by available trains or through any other means available,” the embassy said in a tweet post.

In New Delhi, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday also asked the Indian Air Force to evacuate stranded Indians.

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