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‘Shots fired, people kicked’: Indian student says being pushed back into Ukraine from the border

Source : Press Trust of India (PTI)

‘Shots fired, people kicked’: Indian student says being pushed back into Ukraine from the border
Indian students being beaten at Ukraine-Poland border by Ukrainian Border Guards (Pic Credit : Mathrubhumi News)



Students at the Ukraine-Poland border have sent out videos alleging that Ukrainian soldiers and police are forcing them back into Ukraine from the border of Poland by firing in the air and attempting to drive their cars into the crowd. They have also alleged that they have been beaten and kicked. 

Angel, a Malayali student, can be heard saying on a video that she and her friend were pushed and beaten. Adding that the police tried to ram their vehicles into the group of students, Angel said that they Ukrainian soldiers did not care that students fell. “This is too bad, this is not the way that the Ukraine government or military should treat foreign citizens. This is not how we expect help,” she said.

Panic gripped several cities of Ukraine after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a military operation against the eastern European country. Following Putin’s announcement, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said an “invasion” could be the beginning of a “big war” in Europe.

Other images and videos showed a sea of students waiting at the border of Ukraine-Poland to cross over into the country.

21-year-old Shana Shaji of Kerala told PTI on Saturday, February 26, that they were only left with food for one day, and that they were hiding in a metro bunker. Shaji, a medical student, and her friends had shifted to the metro station on Thursday when Russia launched its military offensive. Connected with the outside world with just their mobile phone, Shaji said they are unaware of what is happening outside the station. Thinking the situation has improved, they had tried to exit the metro station but ran back in after spotting military vehicles on the roads. 

Metro stations have turned into bunkers as people have taken shelter to escape bombardment amid the raging military conflict. People in these “bunkers” are becoming increasingly despondent as they are running out of food supplies, Shaji said. “When I entered the metro station. I thought I will be evacuated soon but it has been three days,” the fourth-year medical student said in a heavy voice. 

“We don’t have food supplies. What will we do now? No ATM is dispensing cash,” Shaji added. Majority of the people in the metro station are Indian citizens, she said, adding they are sleeping on platforms and have used mattresses and blankets to prepare makeshift beds. They sleep in shifts to ensure the safety of the group. 

While several are stuck in bunkers, others chose to leave on foot to reach the land borders. With Ukraine closing its airspace after Russia launched the military operation, the Indian government sent teams to the land borders with Ukraine in Hungary, Poland, the Slovak Republic and Romania to assist in the evacuation of Indian nationals. Two flights with evacuees have already landed in India.

India has positioned teams of officials at the Zahony border post in Hungary, Krakowiec as well as the Shehyni-Medyka land border points in Poland, Vysne Nemecke in the Slovak Republic and the Suceava transit point in Romania to coordinate the exit of Indian nationals from Ukraine.

Shaji said that a few of her friends have left for Poland. “I have lost contact with them. I have no idea where they are. My friend texted me that she is leaving for Poland. There was no further communication.”

Another student shared videos with PTI in which hundreds of people can be seen at the checkpoint, trying to cross the border into Poland. Several people were seen sobbing, with stress and lack of sleep clearly visible on their faces.

India on Saturday advised its stranded nationals in Ukraine to exercise caution at all times and not move to any border posts to exit the country without prior coordination with its officials. The Indian embassy in Ukraine issued a fresh advisory in view of increasing Russian attacks on several Ukrainian cities and reports of heavy fighting around the capital Kyiv. The embassy particularly advised those staying in the eastern part of Ukraine to continue to remain in their current places of residence and stay indoors or in shelters as much as possible.

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