Amid the escalating Russia-Ukraine tensions, 242 Indian students returned safely to India at New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International airport late yesterday evening and reunited with their parents after India started evacuation operations of Indian citizens living in Ukraine and its adjoining areas.
India has deployed Dreamliner B-787 aircraft for carrying out this special operation under which flights were made operational from Kharkiv in Ukraine to New Delhi.
Nirav Patil, a first-year MBBS student studying in Ukraine, said, “The situation is normal around the area where I live. While the university has started studies online so there is not much to worry as before.”
Another student Krishna said, “I live 900 km away from the Ukraine-Russia border. We are around five to six students, who are residents of Gujarat. Our parents were getting quite worried. This is why we had to return to India.”
Several government officials were also sent by the Rajasthan government to the Delhi airport as well as students of Rajasthan who have returned from Ukraine, the state government is busy preparing to send them safely to their home bearing their travel expenses. At present, eight students along with their parents have been asked to stay at the Rajasthan Bhawan.
However, there are several Indian students who have not returned to India by an Air India flight.
Monika, a resident of Chhattisgarh and a fifth-year MBBS student, first took a flight from Kyiv to Doha and then returned to Delhi. According to her, air tickets were quite expensive due to which she came to India taking other flights.
She did not express her opinion on the tense situation in Ukraine as many of her Indian friends are still stuck in Ukraine.
She said, “In some places, studies have been made online but in several other places offline studies are still being followed as the norm. My parents were getting quite worried due to which I had to return to India, but the situation in Ukraine is still normal. Now only if our parents ask us to return to Ukraine only then will we return.”
Air India on February 19 had announced that it would operate flights between India and Ukraine on February 22, 24 and 26. Booking of air tickets is open through Air India booking offices, website, call centres and authorised travel agents. According to the Indian embassy in Ukraine, additional flights from Kyiv to Delhi will operate on February 25, 27 (two flights) and March 6.
At the same time, many students who have returned to India are worried about their studies while some said they had also recently seen a tank used in a war in the city where they lived.
Swati, who is a second-year MBBS student, on returning to Delhi, said, “The situation is normal in Ukraine and I was living a completely normal life there. The people residing there are not worried at all about the Russia-Ukraine tensions.”
“The reason for many students like me returning to India is because of my parents. They were quite mentally disturbed and were worried about my well-being. Now since I have returned back home, our studies will suffer too. But the university where I was studying will start holding online classes. I have exams scheduled for next year.”
Another student Tanvi, who is an MBBS student, arrived in Delhi and spoke about the tense situation in Ukraine, saying, “The situation is pretty worse in Ukraine, I am quite distressed. Children studying here are living in fear, every day different kind of news is coming to fore as one is not able to come to judge which ones to believe. At the same time, air tickets have also become quite expensive.”
The parents of the students also arrived at the airport to pick up their children, but are angry due to the expensive air tickets.
A parent Ratan Singh says, “The situation in Ukraine is absolutely normal, offline studies were being conducted on Tuesday. My son is not worried at all about the overall situation there but most people in India are fast spreading rumours and fear.”
“I have booked flight tickets worth Rs 60,000, but what will those parents do who can’t afford such huge amount of money? The Government of India has sent several flights but how will we be able to book such an expensive air ticket. Till Monday, flight tickets costing Rs one lakh were being sold but after borrowing some extra money from my relatives, I booked the air ticket and called my child back to India,” he added.