KOCHI: Heavy shelling continues outside and the students run to the basement of the hostel building every time they hear an air-raid siren. Army columns criss-cross the streets. With resources drying up and no response to their queries from the embassy in Ukraine, the 700 Indian students at Sumy State University decided to walk all the way to the Russian border braving shells on Saturday morning.
“We hear heavy shelling and explosions all the time. Fighter jets fly fast over our buildings. We have been waiting for evacuation for the past 10 days. The Indian embassy is not responding. Now Russia has announced a ceasefire to open a humanitarian corridor in two cities.
We have realised there is no point in waiting for evacuation anymore. We have decided to walk to the Russian border. If anything happens to us, the Indian embassy will be responsible. Also, it will be the failure of Operation Ganga,” Mariah, a Gujarati student, said in an emotional video message posted on social media on Saturday.
‘Freshers are mentally depressed’
However, their agent, Renish, convinced the students to wait as the Indian embassy requested them to stay in bunkers and said the government is talking to both Russia and Ukraine to open a humanitarian corridor for the students in Sumy.
“The girls, especially freshers, are mentally depressed and we are struggling to calm them down. The power distribution network collapsed following shelling days ago and there is no heating system in the room. We are running out of water and are using packed food purchased before the start of the attack,” said Abhinav Santhosh, a sixth-semester medical student from Chalakudy.
The students bring ice from outside in buckets for toilet use. As it is not consumable, they drink water sparingly.
“Most of the time we huddle together in the basement. It has been really hard, particularly for the girl students. The temperature is minus 9 degrees Celsius. If evacuation is delayed, we may face health issues. The embassy says buses and food are waiting for us on the Russian border but we are unable to reach there due to heavy shelling. The government should talk to both countries to ensure our safe return,” he said.