Russia-Ukraine war: Mumbai students send videos from safety bunkers in Ukraine, seek help

Videos portraying plight of city students in bunkers have flooded social media platforms; anxious parents send out SOS to authorities

Faisal Tandel Satish NandgaonkarUpdated: Saturday, February 26, 2022, 11:29 PM IST
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Russia-Ukraine war: Mumbai students send videos from safety bunkers in Ukraine, seek help |

Mumbai: Even as a flight largely carrying medical students from Ukraine landed at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport last night, several videos of Mumbai students still stuck in the war-torn country have gone viral. Some hopeful and some sleepless and drained faces were streaming on phones, describing their plight and asking for help from the government.

A drained Priyal Bhanushali, a student of Odessa National Medical University, said the situation is tense in Odessa, especially after they heard reports from friends at Kharkhiv that their medical university was destroyed by bombs. “All of us have not slept for the last three days,” said Priyal in her video, adding that Odessa is a portside city (on the coast of Black Sea), and the closest border checkpoint with Romania is a 10-hour drive.

From Mulund, Priyal’s mother Kajal Bhanushali appealed to Prime Minister Modi to initiate evacuation from Moldova, which is two hours from Odessa border. “On behalf of all the terrified parents, I plead to the Government of India for prompt action towards evacuation through Moldova, or kindly make some sound arrangements for the transfer of all these kids.”

A 21-year-old third-year MBBS student, Muskaan Firoz Shaikh, shared a video with her family about a group staying in the bunker of Bhuko Vibiyan University. They contacted the Indian Embassy for help, but were asked to stay put till someone reached them.

Muskaan’s father Firoz, a Bhiwandi resident who works with the Bhiwandi-Nizampur city municipal corporation, claimed that the family is tense due to shelling in the area of the college. “Muskaan said there are around 150 students from across the world in the bunker. Seven of other Indians are from Delhi and Gujarat,” said Asma Shaikh, Muskaan’s mother, who herself has released a video and appealed to the Indian government to help their daughter.

Mohammad Faizraza Shaikh, a fourth-year student at the Zaporozhye State Medical University in south-eastern Ukraine said the state has been put on high alert as bombings can happen any moment. “The Russian army has entered our neighbouring states of Melitopol and Dnipro already. The battle tanks have reached within 20 km from where I live. Close to 1,200 Indian students study at this university. Mini buses were to arrive on Friday but it’s Saturday 5 pm and they are yet to arrive.” He said in his video that buses were to take them to the Romanian border, nearly 1,000 km away, appealing to the government to help evacuate them. Zaporozhye state is closer to Donetsk and Luhansk, controlled by Russian separatists.

Pratik Chavan from Thane, who enrolled at the Bukovinian State Medical University in Ukraine, was lucky to escape the war. He landed in Ukraine on February 24, and in the evening Russia declared war. He went to the hostel, and barely had his breakfast when the hostel authorities told them to keep their bags in the store room and only carry their passport, visa, educational documents and money to go back to India. “He was taken to the Romanian border, and is flying on the second flight from Bucharest to Delhi, which will reach on Sunday morning,” his father Suresh Chavan said.

Meanwhile, a 21-year-old girl from Bhayandar who crossed the Ukraine border to reach Poland, is facing currency issues. Karina Chandrakant Patil, a fourth-year MBBS student claimed she and her group spent 15 hours without food due to currency issues.

Karina has been in touch with the family and sending voice messages about her safety and whereabouts. Her father is a teacher with a school and mother a housewife; she also has a younger brother.

Her mother Alka Patil said, “They reached Poland after struggling and spending so much money. Now in the evening, she messaged saying they have not eaten the whole day because they need Polish currency.” She asked how will the authorities know where they are as they need a SIM card for communication. “We seek help from the Indian embassy to communicate and bring back our daughter safely,” she said.

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