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In talks with European leaders, Modi expresses anguish over Ukraine situation; Indian student injured in Kharkiv firing

Modi spoke to French President Emmanuel Macron, Polish President Andrzej Duda and European Council President Charles Michel amid a worsening situation in Ukraine.

Published: 02nd March 2022 12:03 AM  |   Last Updated: 02nd March 2022 12:03 AM   |  A+A-

A Ukrainian soldier smokes a cigarette on his position at an armored vehicle outside Kharkiv, Ukraine. (Photo | AP)

By PTI

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to several European leaders over the Ukraine crisis on Tuesday and expressed his anguish over the deteriorating situation and the humanitarian crisis in the war-hit country, while reiterating India's appeal for cessation of hostilities and a return to dialogue, the PMO said.

Modi spoke to French President Emmanuel Macron, Polish President Andrzej Duda and European Council President Charles Michel amid a worsening situation in Ukraine as the Russian forces moved deeper into the country.

An Indian student also lost his life in shelling during the Russian advance.

Modi and Macron shared their concerns over the continuing hostilities and the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Ukraine.

Modi welcomed the talks between Ukraine and Russia, and stressed upon the importance of ensuring free and uninterrupted humanitarian access and smooth movement of all people.

In his comments, the prime minister reiterated India's consistent appeal for cessation of hostilities and a return to dialogue and diplomacy.

He stressed India's belief that respect for international law, the UN Charter and the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all countries underpin the contemporary world order, the PMO said.

Modi also briefed Macron on India's efforts to evacuate its citizens from the conflict areas and send urgent relief supplies, including medicines, for the affected populations.

In his talks with Duda, Modi thanked him for the assistance provided by Poland in the evacuation of Indian citizens from Ukraine and for the special gesture of relaxing the visa requirement for the Indian citizens crossing over to the country from Ukraine.

He expressed his particular appreciation for the warm reception and facilitation extended by Polish citizens to the Indian nationals at this difficult time, the PMO said.

Alluding to the traditional friendly relations between the two countries, Modi recalled the assistance offered by Poland in the wake of the Gujarat earthquake in 2001.

He also recollected the exemplary role played by the Maharaja of Jamnagar in rescuing several Polish families and young orphans during the Second World War, the PMO said.

Modi also informed Duda that Union minister V K Singh would be stationed in Poland as his special envoy to oversee the evacuation efforts of Indian citizens.

"The Prime Minister reiterated India's consistent appeal for cessation of hostilities and a return to dialogue. He stressed upon the importance of respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of nations," the PMO said.

In his talks with the European Council president, Modi expressed anguish over the deteriorating situation and the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.

He reiterated India's appeal for cessation of hostilities and a return to dialogue.

"The Prime Minister stressed that the contemporary global order was anchored on international law, UN Charter and respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty of all states. He welcomed the talks between the two parties and stressed upon the importance of ensuring free and uninterrupted humanitarian access and smooth movement of all people," the PMO said.

Modi also spoke about the efforts being made by India to send urgent relief supplies, including medicines, to the affected areas.

One student from Karnataka was injured in shelling in Kharkiv in Ukraine, that left a medical student from the state dead, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said on Tuesday.

He had accompanied Naveen Shekarappa Gyanagoudar, who died in the shelling.

"Two more students from Chalageri village in Ranebennur Taluk in Haveri district were also there. One is injured while the other is safe," Bommai told reporters.

He added that he spoke to Naveen father's Shekarappa Gyanagouda and expressed his grief.

Bommai said his concern is to bring Naveen's body to India.

"We have not yet receive any information what the condition of the body is. I have spoken to the PMO and made a request. I have also sent a message to the Prime Minister to bring the body from Ukraine. Our officials are in touch with the Embassy officials in Ukraine," the Chief Minister said.

Following the incident, India asked the envoys of both Russia and Ukraine to ensure "urgent safe passage" to Indian nationals who are still in Kharkiv and other conflict zones.

"With profound sorrow we confirm that an Indian student lost his life in shelling in Kharkiv this morning," Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said on Twitter at 2:58 pm.

Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said the deceased student was identified and the body was taken to a morgue in the university, adding that Indian authorities are in touch with the local administration in Kharkiv to bring back the mortal remains.

According to Naveen's friends, he had gone out to buy groceries and was standing in a queue at a shop when he was hit, Shringla said, adding that the circumstances are not absolutely clear.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a high-level meeting in the evening, where the evacuation process was reviewed.

"The meeting began with an expression of deep regret and condolences on the tragic death of Naveen Shekarappa Gyanagoudar, an Indian student who was studying at the Kharkiv National Medical University and who died earlier today.

The prime minister conveyed his deep anguish at the loss of the life of the Indian national," Shringla said at a media briefing.

Naveen's uncle Ujjanagouda said the medical student was killed when he stepped out of his bunker to exchange currency and fetch some food.

President of the European Council Charles Michel spoke to Modi and expressed sadness over the death of the Indian student.

He said European countries are wholeheartedly helping in the evacuation of Indian citizens from Ukraine.

The Ukrainian and Russian ambassadors were called into the MEA and were conveyed to ensure the safety of the Indians stranded in Ukraine.

The MEA said India has reiterated its demand for "urgent safe passage" to the Indian nationals who are still in Kharkiv and other cities.

"Similar action is also being undertaken by our ambassadors in Russia and Ukraine," Bagchi said.

Kharkiv is witnessing intense fighting between the Ukrainian troops and the Russian forces.

Earlier in the day, the Indian embassy in Ukraine asked the Indians stranded in Kyiv to leave the Ukrainian capital urgently.

In an advisory, it asked the citizens to leave Kyiv by trains or any other means.

"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.

The advisory came amid increasing fighting between the Russian forces and the Ukrainian troops around Kyiv.

Official sources said the deteriorating situation in Kharkiv is a matter of grave concern and that the safety and security of the Indian nationals in the city is of utmost priority for the government.

They said India has already taken up with the Russian and Ukrainian embassies the "pressing" requirement of safe passage to Indian nationals, including students, from Kharkiv and other cities in conflict zones.

"This demand has been repeatedly made of Russia and Ukraine since the beginning of this conflict on February 24.

It has been conveyed to both their ambassadors in New Delhi as well as taken up in their capitals," said a source.

Sources said the preparations for the evacuation of Indians from the Indian government's side have been in place for some time now.

"An Indian team has been positioned in the Russian city of Belgorod, close to the Ukrainian border. However, the conflict situation in and around Kharkiv and nearby cities has been an obstacle," a source said.

"Therefore, it is imperative that Russia and Ukraine respond to our need for safe passage urgently," the source added.

The sources said in places where the conflict has not endangered movement, Indian authorities have been able to evacuate the citizens.

They said India will continue to make utmost efforts to ensure the return of its citizens stranded in Ukraine.

Union minister Hardeep Puri is heading to Hungary, Jyotiraditya Scindia will oversee the evacuation process in Romania and Moldova, Kiren Rijiju is travelling to Slovakia and General (retd) V K Singh will supervise the evacuation process along the transit points with Poland.



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